In 2018, Lonza debuted a 300,000 square-foot life science facility in Pearland, currently the largest dedicated cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in the world. The company sought a location for this “Center of Excellence” that would provide a diverse workforce and convenience to its first Houston location in the Texas Medical Center area, while maintaining a presence on the “third coast” of biotech. Additional factors that made Pearland’s Lower Kirby District an attractive choice for Lonza were its accessibility to Houston via State Highway 288 and Beltway 8, the nearby life sciences community, infrastructure, and quality of life which offered attractive benefits such as top-rated schools and a reasonable cost of living. Lonza currently employs more than 800 at its Pearland facility.
PEDC’s relationship with Lonza and the company’s awareness of Pearland stemmed from PEDC’s long-term support and involvement with strategic partner BioHouston. During the initial recruitment process which began in 2014, PEDC assisted Lonza and its consultants in locating a site and provided an incentive package for an initial 100,000 square-foot clinical manufacturing and R&D facility. While the initial facility was under construction, Pearland competed with other locations nationwide and was ultimately selected as the location for a 200,000 square-foot expansion to allow the production of commercial quantities of viral gene and cell therapies. Since the facility’s opening in 2018, PEDC has continued to support Lonza’s expansion efforts, allowing for additional laboratories, clean rooms and parking for the Pearland facility. PEDC’s recruitment efforts with Lonza have resulted in over $125 million in capital investment for the community.