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Drugmaker Announces $100 Million Hamilton Facility Expansion

Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

UK-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline today announced $100 million of new investment in its Hamilton manufacturing site.

The company said in a statement that it will expand its capacity to produce components used in several vaccines, including two that help prevent malaria and shingles.

University of Montana Economist Patrick Barkey could think of only two other Bitterroot Valley entities — the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital and federal Rocky Mountain Labs — that would potentially invest as much money in the region as GlaxoSmithKline.

“It's gonna support plenty of good livings made at that facility, and more than exist today," he says.

GlaxoSmithKline currently employs about 200 people in Hamilton. It hasn’t offered an estimate of how many new jobs it expects the expansion to create, but says there will be temporary contracting work, as well as new permanent science, engineering and manufacturing positions after construction finishes in 2022.

Despite its geographic distance from major cities, Barkey says the growth rate in Montana’s manufacturing industries has outpaced the U.S. at large in the last few years, thanks in part to the Treasure State’s high-tech and wood products sectors.

And then there’s GlaxoSmithKline. Barkey says it and Rocky Mountain Labs have made an impressive research and pharmaceutical foothold in the Bitterroot Valley.

Despite that, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate median household salaries in Ravalli County are about $44,000, nearly $5,000 lower than in neighboring Missoula County.

Barkey says expansion of GlaxoSmithKline’s facility will likely help shrink that gap.

“The permanent jobs, I’m sure, will pay decently. They'll pay much more than the county average," he says. "I think what it's going to do is it’s going to improve economic opportunity in that part of the state, and it’s gonna be a magnet for people to move there and for people already there to stay there.”

The Hamilton facility is one of nine GlaxoSmithKline manufacturing sites in the United States.

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