ALACHUA ‒ There is an old saying that when one door closes another door opens, meaning new opportunities arise to replace lost ones. For Alachua, it comes in the form of one company cutting 205 local jobs, while another firm is moving into San Felasco Tech City that will create hundreds of new jobs over the next two years.

Thermo Fisher added an Alachua plant in Progress Park through the acquisition of Brammer Bio in 2019. Once the acquisition was completed, the company invested $6 million in expanding gene therapy and viral vector services at the site, and doubled laboratory and warehousing capacity to four buildings. The 95,000 square-foot facility provided process and analytical development, QC testing, and manufacturing capacity in support of clinical trials for cell and gene therapies.

The new facility was lauded as a great addition to the biotech industry in Alachua and a boost to the local economy.

But less than four years later the company announced it will be cutting 205 jobs at the Alachua location and moving the manufacturing end to Plainville, Massachusetts while the science and technology innovation work will remain in Alachua. According to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice from the Florida Department of Commerce, the layoffs will occur between Oct. 9, 2023 and March 2024.

The downsizing in Alachua is part of a larger trend by Thermo Fisher. Over the past year the company closed a New Jersey cell therapy plant in April as well as widespread job cuts at single-use technology facilities in Logan, Utah. Thermo Fisher also axed nearly 800 jobs at a COVID-19 diagnostics site in San Diego, California.

While the loss of jobs at Alachua’s Thermo Fisher is a blow to the local economy, other incoming businesses will provide more jobs than the ones lost at Thermo Fisher, according to Mitch Glaeser, CEO of Emory Group Companies and owner of San Felasco Tech City.

Tech City currently houses 57 businesses, with many of them in the science and biotechnology fields. “We are proud to announce the AI/software company, Vobile, will establish a 10,000-square-foot R& D and Operations Center in in the newly completed Phase II of the Tech City development,” said Glaeser. “The company plans on hiring hundreds of employees over the next few years, recruiting both engineers and other operating staff from the University of Florida and the surrounding community.” According to Glaeser, 75 of these jobs will be filled in October and November 2023.

“We are excited to welcome Vobile to San Felasco Tech City,” said Glaeser. “Their expertise in digital content protection will only further enhance the thriving tech community here.”

Vobile is the world’s leading provider of digital content asset protection and transaction software as a service. The company develops a series of software services based on its core patented VDNA fingerprinting and watermarking technologies to protect the copyright and increase distribution revenue for digital content owners.

Vobile clients include movie studios, TV networks and streaming platforms. Vobile also offers digital infrastructure service capabilities for content transactions on Web3.

“In addition to Vobile, we also currently have nine companies lined up for building contracts here,” said Glaeser. “While the loss of the jobs at Thermo Fisher is unfortunate, within the next six months we will see many more new jobs in the innovation and science industries in Alachua than those lost by Thermo Fisher's move.”

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