Bayer HealthCare Granted Approval to Expand Berkeley Site

Photo: Bayer Healthcare is planning to expand its Berkeley site by building a new facility that is projected to cost $100 million.
Tim Maloney/Photo
Bayer Healthcare is planning to expand its Berkeley site by building a new facility that is projected to cost $100 million.

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Correction Appended

Amidst an economy riddled with business foreclosures and bankruptcies, the Berkeley-based Bayer HealthCare site will be expanding operations after it was granted license approval Monday for a sterile facility that can fill vials.

The license will allow Bayer, which is the second-largest biotechnology employer in the Bay Area, to increase capacity largely on its production of Kogenate, a treatment for bleeding episodes associated with hemophilia.

The facility cost Bayer approximately $100 million and was built at Bayer's West Berkeley site near the Aquatic Park, said Trina Ostrander, community relations manager for Bayer.

Bayer, which employs about 2,000 workers from Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond, has been in constant expansion mode for the past three to four years, said Sreejit Mohan, a Bayer spokesperson.

"There's no company within our sector that's in the shape that we are," he said. "We have everything happening here-research, development, marketing and sales."

Bayer, one of the three largest employers in Berkeley, is often seen as an anchor of Berkeley's economy because its products are necessary.

"In terms of the recession, this is a product that people need," said Cathy Keck Anderson, deputy director for public policy and communications at Bayer. "People with hemophilia need a clotting agent."

As other employers in Berkeley begin to suffer and other residents begin to lose their jobs, city officials say Bayer's proposed expansion will benefit the community.

"They're our largest private sector employer and they're very much a great stabilizing presence economically," said Michael Caplan, the city's economic development manager. "We're very pleased that they're able to have this expansion."

In the past 15 years, development has been easier for Bayer. The city approved a mutual agreement with the company, allowing it to expand more easily if it financially supports local organizations and provides vocational training, Ostrander said.

The 30-year agreement was enacted by former Mayor Loni Hancock, who is the wife of current Mayor Tom Bates.

"They provided funding to the (West Berkeley Community Foundation), they funded a science lab at Rosa Parks Elementary School, they helped with on-site child care," said Julie Sinai, Bates' chief of staff. "They've been a great community partner."

Mohan said he hoped Bayer would continue to grow as a successful business so that the company can go on supporting the Berkeley community.

"It's a business that makes a huge impact on people's lives, and we're on the growth trajectory," Mohan said. "It's not just about growing, it's about growing responsibly."


Correction: Thursday, November 6, 2008
A previous version of this article stated that a sterile facility had yet to be built. In fact, the facility has already been built but Bayer was recently granted a license to begin operations at the facility.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Keena Batti at [email protected]

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