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Miltenyi Biotec expands in Auburn

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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By Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer An Auburn biotech company that specializes in stem cell research is expanding at the Airport Industrial Park and will be adding jobs. Miltenyi Biotec, Inc., has purchased one of the buildings at the former Coherent campus. The 60,000-square-foot acquisition will triple the space for Miltenyi, which has been located at the airport for more than 10 years. The sale of the 2303 Lindbergh St. site was handled through Southern California-based Abbey Company. Miltenyi plans to sell its Earhart Avenue property, according to Ira Marks, vice president and general manager. “Right now we’re cramped for existing space,” Marks said Monday. Miltenyi has 50 employees in Auburn and another 50 scientists scattered throughout the United States. “We’re looking for a couple of scientists, a marketing person, a product manager and some administrative (positions),” Marks said. The Auburn corporation’s parent company is Miltenyi Biotec GmbH in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, which has more than 1,000 employees worldwide with affiliates throughout Europe and Asia. The Auburn firm, which operates independently, handles laboratory work and marketing of biotech products. “The company manufactures equipment that enables scientists to do research, working with human adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cells,” Marks said. One of the accounts is University of California, Davis, which also provides some of the firm’s technical people, added Dr. Kirt Braun, head of marketing for Miltenyi in Auburn. Marks described Miltenyi as one of the largest biotech firms in the Sacramento area, with more than 1,000 products and 10,000 customers in the United States and Canada. He declined to state yearly sales figures, but a company profile listed at Manta.com lists annual sales at $17.9 million a year. Marks said he expects to move into the new space by the end of year. The company plans significant renovations and is in the permit process with the city of Auburn. “One of the reasons we’re moving is because we need a more state-of-the-art laboratory than we have,” Marks said. Miltenyi’s move to a larger building won’t have an impact on city tax revenues, Mayor Mike Holmes said Monday. “The city derives funds from land leases on the (Airport Industrial Park) property,” Holmes explained. “Unless a new business comes in and for one reason or another generates sales tax, it shouldn’t be a major difference in what the city is getting from the property.” But it does benefit the city and community in other ways, including adding jobs. “And we’re particularly happy to see them staying here rather than moving someplace else,” Holmes said. Although the purchase is welcome news for the city, there’s still plenty of empty commercial space at the Airport Industrial Park including the remaining three empty buildings at the Coherent campus — more than 200,000 square feet — and the 150,000-square-foot building that formerly housed United Natural Foods, which relocated to Rocklin in 2005. During the past six or eight months the city has approved splitting up the campus space, installing separate gas and electric meters, in effort to make the properties more marketable. “That has helped give us some leverage in trying to get some smaller businesses to locate there,” Holmes said, adding that the city is closely monitoring interest in the airport sites. “We’ve had people come through. I took a couple of people through several months back. They indicated they were quite interested. This was another biotech firm. … So we still get people looking and we have a major effort under way to get the commercial real estate people to help us get businesses going out there that will create jobs.” There has been a lot of interest recently in the industrial park properties, City Manager Bob Richardson confirmed, although he declined to provide specifics. ‘There have been numerous meetings with brokers at the Airport Industrial Park with interested companies,” Richardson said. “I’m surprised at the level of interest and activity there’s been out there — happily surprised.“ The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournalcom.