Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Merck & Co., Inc., a publicly held global healthcare company known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, plans to invest up to $1 billion in stages over the next three years to expand its manufacturing operation in Rockingham County. The company will add 120,000 square feet to its existing 1.1 million-square-foot operation in Elkton, Virginia to increase production of its Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. Virginia successfully competed with other states for the project, which is anticipated to create approximately 100 new jobs.
As part of the expansion, Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) and James Madison University (JMU) will collaborate to address Merck’s short- and long-term workforce needs through the development of a custom workforce solution. BRCC and JMU will establish a pipeline of biotechnology engineering and computer science talent that will allow the Shenandoah Valley to accommodate the future growth of Merck and other life science industries and manufacturers in the region.
“This record investment in Rockingham County is a symbol of Merck’s strong commitment to the Shenandoah Valley and will support further economic growth in the region,” said Governor Northam. “Merck has long been a valued employer and important corporate steward in Virginia that continues to play a vital role in advancing the 21st-century manufacturing sector in our Commonwealth. I want to commend all of the partners involved on this transformative project, including Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University—their unprecedented collaboration will ensure we have pipeline of skilled talent in the Shenandoah Valley for decades to come.”
Merck is a global healthcare leader that is committed to improving health and wellbeing around the world. With approximately 69,000 employees, the company delivers innovative health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products. Merck has operated its Elkton manufacturing plant in Rockingham County for over 75 years and currently employs approximately 900 workers at the site.
“We are proud of the employees and colleagues at Merck who are inventing for life to deliver our innovative medicines and vaccines to the world,” said Sanat Chattopadhyay, Executive Vice President and President, Merck Manufacturing Division. “We also are grateful to our neighbors in the community and Commonwealth. Our strong partnerships with local and state elected officials, educational institutions, and organizations throughout the Elkton community help us sustain our commitment to the area’s economic growth.”
“Merck’s incredible growth in Rockingham County exemplifies what a manufacturing company can accomplish in the region with access to the Shenandoah Valley’s high-quality education system and talented workforce,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We are proud of the efforts of James Madison University and Blue Ridge Community College to cultivate biotech engineering and computer science talent in the region, and are confident that the result will be continued prosperity for Merck and other major employers across the Commonwealth.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Rockingham County, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project for Virginia. Subject to approval by the General Assembly, Merck will be eligible to receive an MEI custom performance grant of up to $7.5 million for storm water and infrastructure upgrades to support the expansion of the facility. In addition, Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University are eligible to receive up to $2.5 million for the development of a custom workforce solution. Additionally, Dominion Energy will provide support to enable the expansion, including substantial infrastructure upgrades. The company is also eligible to receive Sales and Use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment, as well as a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.
“Rockingham County is fortunate to have Merck as part of the Shenandoah Valley community,” said Mike Breeden, Chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors and District 5 Representative. “The company is an outstanding corporate citizen, and has supported its local employees and our community for over 75 years. This proposed expansion reaffirms Merck’s commitment.”
“Merck & Co, Inc. has been in production in Rockingham County for over 70 years, and I am proud that the MEI Commission was able to collaborate with the Governor’s office, VEDP, and our local partners to ensure the company’s continued growth and investment in Virginia,” said Senator Frank Ruff, Chairman of the MEI Commission. “We thank Merck for its invaluable corporate partnership and for the creation of approximately new, 21st-century jobs in the Shenandoah Valley.”
“Merck is an industry-leading healthcare company with operations around the world, and its long-lasting success in Rockingham County is a powerful testament to the region’s globally recognized pro-business environment and 21st-century workforce,” said Delegate Nick Rush, Vice Chair of the MEI Commission. “This expansion represents an historic investment in the Commonwealth, and I am confident that the company will continue to thrive with unwavering support from its many partners at the state, regional, and local levels, as well as Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University.”
“Dominion Energy applauds Merck for their increased investment in the Shenandoah Valley and the positive impact it will generate for those who live in the region,” said Bob Blue, Executive Vice President and President and CEO of the Power Delivery Group at Dominion Energy. “We look forward to continuing and expanding our long time partnership with Merck at the Elkton, VA facility.”
“This tremendous commitment by Merck and additional investment by Virginia furthers the extraordinary opportunity we have here in the Valley to be a leader in the field of science and medicine,” said Senator Emmett Hanger. “Building on proven success and teaming with local colleges and universities only strengthens our ability to provide impactful jobs and make a real difference in the healthcare industry all nestled right here in beautiful Elkton, Virginia! I look forward to our continued collaboration with Merck, its leadership and its dedicated employees.”