MSU Moves Step Closer To Pfizer Deal

December 6, 2007
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HOLLAND — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow to consider some action on the proposed Pfizer donation of a 138,000-square-foot pharmaceutical research and development facility in Holland. Tomorrow’s action, however, will not authorize university administration to accept the gift, according to MSU.

The vacant Pfizer facility sits on nine acres of Pfizer’s former 46-acre pharmaceutical campus in Holland. The $50 million facility at 188 Howard Ave. boasts 37,000 liters of chemical reactor capacity with centralized automatic controls, supported by modern laboratories for approximately 100 researchers, a 125-seat auditorium, a library, atrium and offices.

In late November, MSU’s Trustee Finance Committee recommended that the Board of Trustees give the administration the authority to accept the gift and execute a donation agreement. In edition to the gift of real estate, Pfizer offered to prepare the property for MSU and separate utilities at its own expense.

The pharmaceutical giant has offered to donate its drug facility to MSU to house a university bio-economy research, development and commercialization center. Work at the center would focus on biofuel research, biomaterials — which could be fabrics or plastics — or biochemicals. Essentially, it would be the kind of research that would help the economy move away from petroleum-based products towards more renewable, plant-based products. The center would include a bio-economy business incubator to support the start-up of new companies in the bio-economy sector. Private companies, too, would be able to access the center’s advanced equipment and research findings, according to the university.

The facility has undergone an environmental and HVAC review by Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber. The consultants said the environmental testing and review to date suggest that only remedial steps are necessary.

Since Labor Day, the Holland Zeeland Community Foundation has received signed pledges totaling $4.8 million against a $5 million endowment for the center and additional donations are being discussed, according to MSU. Other funds include a $3.4 million grant from the 21st Century Jobs Fund, and $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development program.

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