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Whitmer announces $750 million Pfizer investment

Image of a medical professional administers a vaccine wearing blue globes.

The drugmaker Pfizer is putting $750 million into its Kalamazoo-area vaccine manufacturing operation. That’s on top of a separate $120 million expansion there announced six months ago.

David Breen is the Pfizer Kalamazoo Vice President and Site Lead.

He said the company had always eyed Michigan for the follow-up investment, and successes in the state like the COVID-19 vaccine launch, backed up the choice.

“It’s really been a validation, let’s say, of the technical capability and the talent we have at the facility that that made this investment possible,” Breen told reporters at an announcement press conference Monday.

Breen said his company expects the investment to create 300 new jobs for the region. That includes scientists, process engineers, and operators.

The state is highlighting the continued involvement in the region as proof Michigan’s economic development incentives are paying off. That includes the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR), created late last year.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she’d like lawmakers to set aside more funding for the program, even as the clock winds down on the legislative term.

“My hope is that we will still see some activity out of the Legislature during lame duck and this is a priority of mine. If, as it appears, maybe there’s not going to be a robust agenda for lame duck, then we will get it done soon as we convene the next Legislature,” Whitmer said Monday.

State officials did not give specifics on any incentives package Pfizer could potentially receive. But Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Quentin Messer Jr. said it’s not expected to involve SOAR funding.

“What we don’t want to do is we don’t want to signal all our plays. The competition is keen, but we want to make sure that we provide for Pfizer what it takes to continue to earn this investment, and SOAR is only but one of several tools that may or may not be used for this particular project,” Messer said.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board, which Messer leads, has been active recently in working out agreements to use SOAR dollars on various large-scale projects. Those include large planned electric vehicle battery plants in Big Rapids and Wayne County.

The money, however, would need the approval of both the state House and Senate appropriations committees. With political appetites potentially shifting during and following last month’s midterm election, it’s unclear whether that will get done before Democrats assume control of both chambers of the Legislature next year.

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