HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WTVD) -- FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies held a celebration for employees as it marked progress on its new Holly Springs facility.
The ceremony, which included key company representatives including CEO Lars Petersen, comes on the same day it announced the first outside company to utilize space in the site. Janssen Supply Group, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, will utilize "a large-scale manufacturing suite."
In 2021, FUJIFILM announced it would expand operations in Holly Springs, a $2 billion project which is the largest life sciences investment in state history.
"There is a community, education institutions, (people) are more prepared, more trained. We can collaborate together. (The) demography of people are changing rapidly. So how are we actually utilizing that in this area? Alone, we have about 75,000 trained employees for our industry. That mattered a lot when we had to position a facility and decide where to go," said Petersen.
Ultimately, FUJIFILM will employ more than 700 people on the site, with plans to open in 2025.
"We can for double the size of the entire manufacturing footprint," said Petersen, of possible future expansions on the site. "The critical mass that we would need to grow life sciences has already existed in this area. Just with Research Triangle Park, with our three Tier one universities, a close-by international airport. The land that was available and ready to go, we were just poised for the success that we are seeing today," said Irena Krstanovic, the Economic Development Director for the Town of Holly Springs.
FUJIFILM currently operates out of Research Triangle Park, with Petersen noting the Holly Springs facility will serve a different purpose.
"It's really medicine of a bigger scale. So for many patients, it could in the future be Alzheimer's medicine, medicine, but it likely will be in the beginning oncology medicine or autoimmune diseases," said Petersen.
Krstanovic explained the town has long targeted the life sciences industry, pointing to CSL Seqirus and Amgen, the latter of which broke ground on a $550 million site in March of 2022, which will bring more than 350 jobs.
"I do believe that Holly Springs is already a biotech hub, with have CSL Seqirus, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, and Amgen in our community. Holly Springs is on the map, and we have worked really hard to bring more quality land, to establish more products in the business parks that (other companies) are already seeing and looking into our community and asking 'How can we be part of this success'," Krstanovic said.
The presence of multi-national companies has also provided a boost to other industries, with Krtanovic meeting with ABC 11 between interviews for a newly-created position within the Economic Development team solely focused on smaller businesses.
"The inquiries from small businesses have exploded in the last few years since the large announcements have been made. Our office every day is assisting small businesses to come," said Krstanovic. "When you're supporting the people who live here, that just creates a sense of community that everybody is looking for," said Lesli Doares, who lives in Holly Springs.
"Having those larger businesses come here, spending their money here, those people living here, knowing it's a community. Yes, it all rises together. Everybody works together. And I think that just what help makes Holly Springs what it is and it's really exciting," added Sarah Larson.
ABC 11 met with both Doares and Larson outside a polling location Tuesday, where the town's rapid growth was naturally a point of focus for many voters across town.
"When I first moved here (28 years ago), there was a single stoplight and pretty much nothing else," Doares recalled.
Back then, the population was under 10,00; today, it's topping 40,000. While Doares and Larson are both excited for the development, they want town leaders to ensure its keeping up with growth.
"I would like to see the next town council try to be more open with communication of what they are dealing with, because I know there are five-year plans, 10-year plans that maybe the public doesn't understand," said Larson.
"This is great, but do we have the roads to service it? What is that going to do? Do we have the schools to service it? Do we have doctors," said Doares, who noted the value of UNC's Rex Hospital, which opened in 2021.
Larson was hopeful the presence of the companies could play a role in preparing for potential infrastructure and road limitations.
"We should be having our taxpayer dollars stay in Holly Springs, and with Fujifilm and Amgen moving here that flips our tax base," said Larson.