February 04, 2005

Ellen Qualls
(804) 786-2211, x2379

Janet G. Skidmore
Merck & Co., Inc.
(908) 423-3046
Christie Collins
(804) 371-4074
-Merck will invest $40 million to prepare its Elkton facility for vaccine manufacturing -

RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced that Merck & Co., Inc. will invest $40 million to prepare its facility in Elkton to support the production of a vaccine candidate in the company’s pipeline. The investment will include construction of a new building on its property and the installation of new manufacturing equipment for the process.

“Merck’s decision is a strategic investment in the Elkton site’s future that demonstrates the value Merck places on Virginia’s business climate and the quality of our workforce,” said Governor Warner. “Bringing vaccine production to Elkton is welcome news that will keep high-quality manufacturing jobs in Virginia.”

The expansion, which is expected to be operational in 2007, will allow the Elkton facility to undertake part of the manufacturing process for GARDASIL™, Merck’s vaccine in development to prevent the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and the associated development of cervical cancer and genital warts.

Merck, headquartered in Whitehouse Station, NJ, is a global research-driven pharmaceutical products company. Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of innovative products to improve human and animal health, directly and through its joint ventures. The company’s Elkton facility employs about 880 employees with $70 million in annual payroll. The facility was first opened in 1941 and is one of six Merck manufacturing facilities in the continental United States (out of a total of 31 worldwide).

“In selecting Elkton for this new process we are able to use some of the plant’s existing infrastructure and manufacturing expertise,” said Dr. Charles Vencill, plant manager of Merck’s Elkton facility. “Merck continues to view Virginia as a favorable location for investment, and we appreciate the strong support the company received from the Warner Administration and local officials to help facilitate this expansion.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, with the assistance of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, worked with Rockingham County to prepare the state’s proposal and negotiate an incentive package to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Warner approved a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership (VIP) program, an incentive available to existing Virginia companies. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide retraining through its Workforce Services Program for 30-40 existing employees at the facility who will transition to vaccine production. Nearby James Madison University and Blue Ridge Community College have offered to assist Merck by providing biomanufacturing certification and degree curricula to support the company’s long-term workforce training needs.

“Rockingham County is pleased that Merck has announced a decision to expand its Stonewall Plant located near Elkton,” said Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Chairman Pablo Cuevas. “This expansion signifies a continued strong commitment by Merck to the Shenandoah Valley, and further strengthens and diversifies the strong local economy.”


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