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Columbia Missourian

ABC Labs opens doors at Discovery Ridge facility

By Chris Dieterich
September 23, 2008 | 9:56 p.m. CDT
Betty Fennel, right, looks into a lab at Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories as Jill Nabors, a quality and assurance manager, gives a tour of the new building shortly after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

COLUMBIA — Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories christened its new, 90,000-square-foot pharmaceutical facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at MU's Discovery Ridge Research Park on Tuesday.

The $15 million facility will bring around 210 of ABC Labs' 310 employees under a single roof and will provide capacity to house future employees, said Jill Nabors, a quality and assurance manager at the new facility. Speaking at the event, President and CEO Byron Hill said the company now has the potential to grow to as many as 500 employees over the next four years.

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Hill said that the expansion and modernization of ABC Labs means more jobs for Columbia and more tax revenue to fund schools and local government.  

Before moving into the new lab facility, ABC Labs' operations were scattered among 15 or 20 buildings at any given time, said Nabors. ABC Labs will keep about 100 employees at their chemical and synthesis location on Interstate 70 east of Highway 63.

ABC Labs, a research and development firm for pharmaceutical, agricultural, animal health and chemical companies, has been based in Columbia for 40 years. ABC Labs was the first tenant to set up shop at Discovery Ridge, MU's 114-acre research park off of Highway 63 and Gans Road. MU's Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory is also a tenant at Discovery Ridge.

Charles Gehrke, a former MU professor who founded ABC Labs with two graduate students, was on hand to cut the ribbon on the facility.

"Thinking back, (the new facility) certainly is a great development," Gehrke said. "We've gone from three scientists to 310."  

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee described the completion of the facility as an accomplishment for the community as well as a statement about MU's commitment to economic development. The new lab facility and infrastructure upgrades were steps toward building a "critical mass" to leverage new businesses and the ABC Labs-anchored research park has potential to bring "thousands of  jobs and billions of dollars" to the region over the next 25 years, Forsee said.