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Health Care, Pharma and
Bio/Med Companies
Thrive in Plainsboro

Mayor Peter Cantu Robert O Sheehan, Administrator
By Peter Cantu,
Mayor, Plainsboro, NJLM Past President
& Robert O. Sheehan, Administrator
Plainsboro Township

Despite difficult economic times, Plainsboro is poised for growth in the coming years based on the strength of its health care, pharmaceutical and bio/medical companies.

Our most recent expansion is the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk’s new North American headquarters. The company has acquired the 800,000 square foot former Merrill Lynch building at 800 Scudders Mill Road. The 500,000 square foot building includes expansion space that can accommodate 210 additional employees. The company, which plans to expand over the next 10 years, also has the rights to an additional 800,000 square feet.

Novo Nordisk, with offices in Plainsboro since 2000, specializes in the care of diabetes patients. While the pharmaceutical industry has experienced mergers and layoffs in recent years, Novo Nordisk’s success has fueled expansion.

University Medical Center ofg Princeton at Plainsboro
Located in Plainsboro, Novo Nordisk’s new North American headquarters will upgrade and occupy the 800,000 square foot complex formerly home to Merrill Lynch. 
(Photo by Studio AMD)

Novo is partnering with a joint venture led by Ivy Equities and real estate developer LCOR and International Real Estate Corporation. They are planning a $215 million, complete renovation and remodel of the exterior and interior of the building. The Novo deal represents the largest real estate transaction in New Jersey so far this year. In addition to accommodating the company’s space needs, the project will create 500 construction jobs. The company plans to seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for its efforts.

The complex was originally constructed by Merrill Lynch & Company in the 1980’s as their unofficial corporate headquarters. But with Merrill’s consolidation and relocation to the newer Hopewell Township facility, the building had become underutilized. The specialized nature of the building, uniquely suited as a headquarters facility, would not easily lend itself to subdivision. So, Novo Nordisk’s decision was welcomed by Plainsboro officials who were concerned about the future of this very important property.

Novo Nordisk’s announcement served to further solidify Plainsboro’s identity as home to health care, pharmaceutical and bio/medical companies—as has the decision by Princeton Healthcare Systems to locate the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro in our town.

Novo Nordisk's new headquarters in Plainsboro
The new 636,000 square foot, 220-bed University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro will be the centerpiece of a diverse health care campus

Scheduled to open in May 2012, the state of the art medical center includes 636,000 square feet and 220 beds, with the potential for a second phase with an additional 324,000 square feet and 130 beds. It is the centerpiece of a diverse health care campus that includes the 180-bed Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center; medical offices (240,000 square feet); a fitness center (50,000 square feet), and a continuing care retirement community (30 assisted living units and 340 age-restricted independent living units). In addition, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has recently proposed a 100,000 square foot outpatient clinic and office building on the campus. The proposal is pending before the Plainsboro Planning Board.

The Plainsboro Health Care Campus development will create 3,300 construction jobs and materials purchases of $230 million. Once completed and operational, the campus will
contribute $1.2 billion annually to the region’s economy and will result in an additional 4,800 jobs. In addition to the project’s impact on the local economy, Plainsboro will receive $4 million annually in payments in lieu of taxes and $4.2 million in one time revenues.

These exciting new developments build upon an economic foundation that has benefited from the longstanding presence of important health care, pharmaceutical and bio/medical companies. Currently, 20 health care, pharmaceutical and bio/medical companies occupy over 1 million square feet of space, pay over $7 million annually in property taxes and employ over 4,000 people. In turn, these employees support Plainsboro’s retail stores, restaurants and other services.

From Fortune 500 companies to small start ups, the industry’s presence in Plainsboro takes all forms. The region’s supply of highly educated, well trained workers and Plainsboro’s supportive business environment help these companies thrive.

In 1992, Bristol Myers Squibb, global pharmaceutical company and member of the Fortune 500, came to Plainsboro. They developed 618,000 square feet and retain rights to an additional 539,000 square feet of development that has not yet been built. Currently Plainsboro’s largest employer, with 1550 workers, Bristol Myers Squibb has been an economic mainstay in Plainsboro and in the region.

At the other end of the spectrum is Integra Life Sciences, which got its start in Plainsboro in 1989 with a handful of employees. Since then it has experienced incredible growth. With revenues of $682.5 million in 2009, Integra is now recognized as a leader in the development and
production of medical devices. The company’s products are used to treat millions of patients every year, primarily in the areas of neurosurgery, orthopedics and general surgery. With 3,000 employees worldwide, Integra employs 850 in Plainsboro and ranks as one of the township’s largest employers. Integra is currently before the Plainsboro Planning Board with a proposal to expand its manufacturing of “dermal replacement” or artificial skin. The expanded facilities will employ 40 new employees.

Plainsboro is also home to a leader in healthcare policy and philanthropy. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted solely to public health, has been located in Plainsboro since 1975. The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to improve the health and health care of all Americans through policy analysis, grant making and the evaluation of health care practices. The foundation employs 275 people.

In addition to their significant contribution to the local economy, Plainsboro’s health care, pharmaceutical and bio medical companies are stellar corporate citizens, ready to assist with a variety of civic projects. In 2001, when Plainsboro was preparing to construct the Environmental Education Center at the newly acquired Plainsboro Preserve, it was Novo Nordisk and Bristol Myers Squibb who stepped forward as lead donors.

And in 2006, when Plainsboro launched a fundraising campaign in support of the construction of a new public library, Princeton Healthcare Systems, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novo Nordisk and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation took the lead with donations totaling $725,000, nearly half of all funds raised.

Plainsboro’s elected leaders and its many bio/health businesses are working together to improve the prosperity and the quality of life for Plainsboro’s residents


Originally published in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 88, Number 8, November 2011

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