State and City leaders foresee economic boost with expansion of Pfizer facility

State and City leaders foresee economic boost with expansion of Pfizer facility.

Pfizer’s largest manufacturing facility in the world has just gotten bigger and the multi-million dollar expansion is happening West Michigan.

Tuesday, the global pharmaceutical corporation dedicated a new 98,500 square foot facility at the Portage site.

“To see this kind of a warehouse come together for this site is just tremendous. We’re going to fill this with product pretty soon, probably within the next month or so. We’ll moving product out of the current warehouse into here and we’ve even left a little space for some more,” Bob Betzig, site leader at Pfizer’s Kalamazoo facility, said.

Pfizer has already invested $1 billion to the Portage site over the last decade. With its latest, city and state leaders say Michiganders will see growth in the housing market, job opportunity, education and many other gains in the area.

“Pfizer’s really putting the flag here, saying ‘not only are we staying, but we’re going to expand,’ is a really good economic sign,” U.S. Representative Fred Upton said, "We’re the number one job creator now in the Midwest, but you look at the other announcements that have been made because of the tax bill, whether it be Chrysler, GM, all these different things, we’re where folks want to be.”

The expansion is the second part to the company’s $147 million project in Portage.

Mayor Patricia Randall said Pfizer contributes 17 percent to Portage’s tax base.

“It goes to our infrastructure, it supports our schools, our library. On top of that, they offer wonderful paying jobs for people who do live in Portage and the region,” Randall said. “We approved a $144 million bond issue for our schools last year. It just shows the amount of commitment that people are willing to make in education and many of those people are employed at Pfizer.”

The new facility will bring more job opportunity to the area, with Pfizer needing an additional 200 people to run it.

“Skill trades are the ones we need. Get those kids coming through the schools, give them an opportunity to see a career path forward. You don’t have to go to college to make good money here,” Betzig said.

“Michigan is one of those comeback states. Our unemployment rates used to be 12, 13, 14 percent. Some of our communities were even over 20 percent. Now we’re seeing a real thirst for good jobs,” Upton said. “We want this to be where families want to locate. We survived the worst, now we’re going to be the best.”

There’s reason why Pfizer said West Michigan keeps its biggest manufacturing site a successful.

“The talent is the number one reason we’re here. You’ve got to have good talent. You could build this anywhere in the world, you could make these medicines anywhere in the world,” Betzig said.

Pfizer is currently hiring. Along will skill trade and operations workers, Betzig said they’re looking for trained engineers, scientists and project managers.

The company also offers an apprenticeship through the Kalamazoo Valley Community College for students interested in pursuing a career with Pfizer.

The new facility is expected to open and operational in late March.