Belgian pharmaceuticals firm UCB is set to expand its U.S. headquarters in Cobb County through a multi-phase plan that is to generate $47.5 million in investment and 100 jobs on its existing 47-acre campus.
Through its incentive program, Smyrna City Council in a virtual meeting May 4 approved a waiver of $180,950 in building permit and recording fees associated with the first phase of the project.
“I think this is a great opportunity to expand one of the largest businesses in Smyrna,” Councilmember Austin Wagner of Ward 2, where the project is based, said in the only commentary before the vote.
The council voted 7-0 in favor of the measure, noting UCB’s productive corporate citizenship since it set up a U.S. headquarters there 16 years ago. With more than 400 workers already, UCB ranks among the top 10 employers in the city.
[Read Global Atlanta’s report from 2002: Belgian Conglomerate UCB Sees Atlanta As Prime Location]
“Our long-term commitment to creating jobs and doing our share to contribute to the growth of Georgia’s economy is only superseded by our long-term commitment to the economy right here in Cobb County and, specifically, in the City of Smyrna,” Duane Barnes, UCB President of U.S. operations, wrote in a letter to Community Development Director Rusty Martin.
In addition to highlighting its leadership in groups like GeorgiaBio and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Barnes said UCB directs operations across the U.S. from metro Atlanta and that its presence in Smyrna serves as “a vital resource for UCB’s global operations, including UCB’s headquarters in Belgium.”
In a GoToMeeting recording of the city council meeting reviewed by Global Atlanta, Mr. Martin said building plans were currently being reviewed for the first phase, an investment of $23.5 million to repurpose an existing building and add a new parking area. That would create 60,000 square feet of space for 100 new workers. After completion, the company would employ 500 people with an average income of $100,000 per year.
Building plans are under review. Upon approval, construction could start this summer and would take about 18 months. Phases Two and Three are expected to add $24 million more in construction expenditures, though no timeline has been announced yet for this expansion.
Mr. Martin said the development would be the first to be certified by LEED for environmental friendliness and WELL, a newer standard for buildings and communities “seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness.”
Smyrna estimates the city would recapture the incentive money in 26 months once additional property taxes are factored in. UCB’s campus was recently appraised at about $40 million in value. It currently generates $143,780 in annual property taxes.
A view of the UCB building to be improved at the intersection of Windy Hill Road and Village Parkway: