Vaccine maker Moderna to open hub in Atlanta

Will bring 150 jobs

A biotech firm that has been a leader in making COVID-19 vaccines has announced plans to locate a 150-job office in Atlanta, officials said Thursday.

Moderna Inc., a 12-year-old, Massachusetts-based company, expects to start operations in the second quarter of this year, according to a statement from the company and government officials.

The company specializes in messenger RNA products – mRNA – which are used in therapies and vaccines, most notably the shots made widely available last year to immunize people against the coronavirus that has now killed more than 900,000 Americans.

The announcement was made by Gov. Brian Kemp, who cited the state’s scientific talent and “pro-business environment,” as attracting Moderna.

Georgia typically provides companies moving here with incentives such as tax breaks or free land. The governor did not say whether Moderna was receiving incentives.

Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science Magazine, and it is ranked first on the list of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company magazine, officials said.

The move to Atlanta is an expansion, according to a statement by Stéphane Bancel, the company’s chief executive officer. “We look forward to engaging with the diverse pool of talent in the Atlanta community,” he said.

The company will use Atlanta for finances, human resources, procurement and software development, and it will be hiring officials said.

On Thursday, Moderna’s vaccine was approved by European authorities for use with children aged six to 11. In an earnings announcement a week ago, the company said it expects to sell at least $19 billion of its COVID-19 vaccine this year.

Moderna’s revenue last year was $18.5 billion.

Last year, Georgia exported $3.2 billion in immunological products and $1.9 billion in medical devices and pharmaceuticals, according to the state’s Department of Economic Development.

“Moderna’s decision to locate their new offices in Atlanta is reflective of the strength of our life sciences and technology communities,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Georgia, especially metro Atlanta, is seen as a source of science talent because it is the home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a number of universities.

According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state has fewer than 5,000 bioscience technicians and engineers, but that does not include all those who work for companies in other capacities. In a report issued before the pandemic, Georgia Power said the state had about 20,000 biosicence workers and more than 400 companies in the field.

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