Construction projects within Michigan’s pharmaceutical and biotech industry totaled nearly $450 million between 2015 and 2020, according to an analysis that forecasts many more projects over the next half decade.
Michigan, along with Colorado and Washington, had “some of the largest construction projects planned for the next five years,” according to the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association report that highlights the role of unionized skilled trades workers in the projects.
The analysis found that the 15 research, manufacturing, and distribution projects in Michigan from 2015 to 2020 had a total valuation of $449.6 million. The projects generated $1.1 billion in total spending and $25.4 million in wages for construction workers who are members of 14 skilled trades unions.
“This study demonstrates the value of the critical partnership between the biopharmaceutical industry and the skilled construction craft union workers in Michigan,” said Brian O’Donnell, business manager and financial secretary for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 131. “As Michigan looks to diversify its economy, the biopharmaceutical industry — and the skilled union craft workers employed by the industry — help create that growing economic engine.”
Using data from Sugar Land, Texas-based Industrial Information Resources Inc., the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association, a coalition of labor unions and companies in the pharmaceutical industry analyzed privately funded projects of $5 million or more.
Across the 14 states analyzed, 447 pharmaceutical and biotech projects built from 2015 to 2020 had a combined valuation of $23.6 billion.
A report on the study specifically noted work at Pfizer Inc.’s facility in Portage to produce the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The partnership between America’s pharmaceutical and biotech industry and the construction unions has been important for industry growth for decades, but it took on new meaning during the pandemic,” report authors wrote. “Skilled construction trades people were integral in retrofitting facilities — such as Pfizer’s plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. — that were vital in the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines.”
In the analysis, Michigan ranked ninth among the 14 states for the number of projects and their combined value.
The association’s study states that private-sector construction spending in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry collectively increased each year across the 14 states in the six-year period, from $3.92 billion in 2015 to $6.11 billion in 2020. Spending on projects in Michigan in 2020 alone totaled $179.3 million.
Over the next five years, Michigan and numerous other states are expected to “exhibit substantial increases in construction spending from their 2020 levels,” according to the report. Those projects include Pfizer’s ongoing $465 million expansion in Kalamazoo.