Genentech invests $400 million in Oregon

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
starkmangovernor
Genentech’s Barry Starkman presents a T-shirt to Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Starkman oversees 250
employees at the company’s new Hillsboro facility.
OREGON BUSINESS PHOTO

Since purchasing 75 acres of land in Hillsboro in 2006, the San Francisco-based pharmaceutical giant Genentech has invested $400 million in Oregon and created 250 jobs at its new fill/finish and distribution facility. Plant manager Barry Starkman spoke with Oregon Business after a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early April.

Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from New Jersey. Spent most of my life there. Went to college in Pennsylvania, worked for a while there, then spent 24 years with Merck, working overseas in Belgium. I joined Genentech about five years ago.

You were involved with Genentech’s move to Oregon from the beginning?
I started working on this in the summer of 2005, about six months after I joined Genentech. For a while I was based out of San Francisco. We moved to Oregon in July of 2007.

Describe your experience expanding into Oregon.
It’s been an amazing experience. Oregon set itself apart from the other places we looked at. People were genuine about wanting us to be here. It wasn’t just a façade. It was real. They were looking to diversify the portfolio of businesses here and they were ready to take it all the way.

Did that change after you bought the property?
Not at all. Once we made the decision to come here, it didn’t stop. It was about everything they could do to bring this to reality. A friend of mine with another pharmaceutical company has been trying to do a similar project, and the last time I talked to him he still hadn’t gotten the money from the state. The promises still weren’t fulfilled. Here, every single promise was fulfilled.

Your experience seems to contradict the criticism the state has gotten lately for being anti-business.
I have not experienced that. I don’t know whether it’s something special in Hillsboro as opposed to different places, but I can tell you that my experience in Hillsboro has been extremely positive. Any time we ran into an issue during construction they were right there doing what they could.

What about the tax increases that just passed? How do they affect you?
From my vantage point of running this facility, it’s had no impact at all. There’s nothing that has or will change the course that we’re on. We are on track, and this facility is a key strategic component.

Are you happy with the job Hoffman Construction did?
We didn’t know anything about Hoffman. But they presented themselves extremely well. They had the contacts here, they had good relationships with the building trades council, and they delivered a beautiful building to us. It was different for us to do a design-build project, which we hadn’t done before. That was a little risky on our end, but the rewards have paid off. And we maintain a great relationship with them.

What about the 300 employees you’ll have when fully operational?
About half of our employees are transplants from California. The rest have been hired locally, or through national searches for specialized engineers. We also developed a program (with state funding) at Portland Community College and provided scholarships for the first two cohorts of students to go through it. They went for free, and out of those 40-plus students I think we hired 27.

Are these biotech jobs?
We’re proud to say we are part of the biotech process. It’s a vertically integrated process from end to end, and we’re the final step before the medicine goes to the patient.

Genentech is a perennial pick for Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. What puts the company on that list year after year?
There are a lot of things about Genentech that contribute to the culture. It’s the T-shirt and jeans culture we have, the great benefits we offer and the great salaries we pay people. It’s the bonuses and stock options all levels of employees get, whether you are sweeping the floor as a maintenance worker or the CEO... But the most important thing, and what attracted me here, is the energy around patients. A woman I know is a breast cancer patient, and she’s using Avastin [a tumor-starving cancer medication developed by Genentech] as part of the clinical trial. She was here the day we packaged Avastin for the first time. She spoke to our entire employee population about her experiences. That gives you a sense of purpose. It’s easy to get up to come to work here in the morning.

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.

0315 input01 620px

 

Reader comments:

"I feel private enterprises are capable of operating at a higher efficiency than state government."

"This has been used in Oregon since the mid-1800s. It is not a new financing method. This form of financing may help Oregon close its infrastructure deficit by leveraging funds."


Read more...

Apartment Mania

Guest Blog
Thursday, June 18, 2015
4805983977 11466ce1d6 zBY BRAD HOULE | CFA

While most categories of commercial real estate have performed well, one of the most robust has been apartment buildings.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS