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pounds 3.7mjobs lifesaver.

Byline: Mike Hornby

ALMOST 400 jobs have been saved in the North West with a pounds 3.7m grant to a Cheshire pharmaceutical firm.

The cash,confirmed yesterday, will be used by Florida-based IVAX Pharmaceuticals to complete the building of a pounds 25mmanufacturing plant at Preston Brook.

The firm currently operates out of two sterile manufacturing sites at the Astmoor Industrial Estate in Runcorn, specialising in security packaging of medical treatments for asthma and lung disease.

The cash includes pounds 1.7mfrom the North West Development Agency's Cheshire Development Fund and a further Regional Selective Assistance grant of up to pounds 2m.

It will allow the firm, which has sites across Europe and America, to remain in the north west after fears that IVAX senior bosses would decide to consolidate operations and close the Runcorn outfit.

Construction is already under way of the new manufacturing facility at Preston Brook which will either create or safeguard a total of 385 jobs.

The company plans to open the plant before the end of this year with the transfer of staff completed by spring next year.

Steve Forrester-Coles, site director at IVAX Pharmaceuticals UK, said the company needed to expand because of the rapid success of its products.

``Presently we are operating out of two sites in Runcorn,both of which we have outgrown,''he said.

``IVAX is putting in pounds 23minto the new production plant at Preston Brook,all the staff from the old sites will be absorbed into the new plant.

``It is a significant investment for the Company and a statement of confidence in its people and products. The support provided through the NWDA and RSA is pivotal to the success of the whole expansion project and will secure the long term success of the business, safeguarding existing jobs and creating new opportunities.''

IVAX Pharmaceuticals UK is a subsidiary of the IVAX Corporation, based in Miami, Florida, which is engaged in the research, development,manufacturing and marketing of medicines across the world.

IVAX UK,formerly Norton Steripak,is now one of the UK's top ten pharmaceutical companies with sales of more than pounds 145m.

Chris Koral,NWDA Cheshire area manager, said: ``This important investment is real proof of a growing confidence in the region.''


THE NWDA also announced funding of pounds 250,000 for the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes yesterday.

The grant will enable work to begin on development programmes including the construction of a multi-media theatre and a ``discovery laboratory'' at the museum.

In addition,Catalyst will be refurbished and its existing programmes,including the very popular ``Scientrific'' experience, will be improved.

David Moss, chairman of Catalyst Trustees, said: ``Catalyst is the UK's only science centre and museum solely devoted to chemistry and how the products of chemistry are used in every day life -from medicines to Meccano.

``Our key aim is to inform people of all ages about the `chemistry'industry and its role in our lives. Never has there been a more critical time for bringing the excitement of science to young people with a skills crisis facing the scienceindustries.

``At the same time the North West Region wants to rebuild its prowess in science and technology and be world competitive.''
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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