Blu Caribe announces $4M plant upgrade, creates 115 jobs
A little over a year after acquiring a plant formerly owned by Biovail in Dorado, Blu Caribe announced Wednesday a $4 million upgrade to its plant that will create 115 new jobs and allow the addition of more products to its manufacturing line in coming months.
Through the planned upgrade of the 145,000 square-foot plant, Blu Caribe is expected to begin production of two new products: Gemfibrozil and Simvastatin, medications used to lower lipid and bad cholesterol levels, respectively. The money will go toward preparing new production areas in the plant and purchase equipment to develop the new products.
Blu Caribe picked up the former Biovail assets in April 2010, following a $60 million investment in the facility and retrofitting to adapt the facility to its manufacturing needs. As part of the deal, the company hired about 135 former Biovail employees, vowing to double its payroll within a year.
The announced expansion project will be financed in part through a $2.5 million loan from the Economic Development Bank approved last month, agency President Ivonne Otero said during a news conference at the plant. The most recent line of credit pushes the EDB’s involvement with Blue Caribe to $7.5 million, marking the first time the agency’s $5 million credit limit for a single transaction is exceeded.
“This funding gives way to a new phase for the EDB, giving greater opportunities to small and medium entrepreneurs,” said Otero, who said the financing is possible through a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Blu Caribe received the first $5 million from the EDB in January 2010 to acquire the plant that was on the verge of closing.
“In January 2010, with funding from the EDB, 135 jobs were retained that would have otherwise been lost as a result of the closure scheduled by Biovail. In less than a year, Blu Caribe created 115 new jobs in the town of Dorado,” Otero said.
In the last year, Blu Caribe has produced more than 562 million tablets of Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic its sister company Blu Pharmaceuticals LLC supplies to the federal government. That production translated into $15.5 million in sales for Blu Caribe and and some $33 million for Blu Pharmaceuticals.
During his visit to Puerto Rico last April, Blu Pharmaceuticals President said the goal is to ramp up tablet production capacity to 4 billion by 2013.