A $22.5 million plan to breathe new life into a Petersburg plant has been placed on hold.
In a statement released Friday, UniTao Pharmaceuticals announced that it will postpone its plans to reinvigorate the Boehringer Ingelheim plant and add 376 new jobs to the local economy “until business conditions improve.”
UniTao, which manufactures ingredients for drugs, dietary supplements and food additives, is a subsidiary of the Chinese firm Tenry. The Petersburg operation would have been Tenry’s first manufacturing location in the United States.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe had announced at a press conference at the 2820 Normandy Drive plant in late October that UniTao would receive $1 million from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, which Petersburg planned to match.
But according to its statement, the Chinese company will not be accepting the development grant “since the company cannot meet the obligations of those agreements at this time.”
Manufacturing was initially expected to be up and running in Petersburg within two years. The 376 employees were to be hired gradually, with 30 employees added the first year, 200 the second, and the rest joining as production ramped up.
UniTao will keep a small team on-site “to ensure the facility remains a viable pharmaceutical operation in the near future,” according to the statement.
Some already hired employees will be affected and will receive severance packages.
The Boehringer Ingelheim plant had been slated for closure before it was purchased by UniTao in October for $2.4 million, according to Petersburg property records. The plant meets stringent standards and regulations set by the United States and European Union.
Virginia had competed with California and China for the UniTao project.