PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Pfizer broke ground Wednesday on a new $450 million pharmaceutical manufacturing facility on its Portage campus.

Pfizer expects to hire more than 450 people to staff its new Modular Aseptic Processing plant. At some 420,000 square feet, the company boasted it as “one of the world’s most technically advanced sterile injectable pharmaceutical production facilities.”

Chaz Calitri, the vice president of operations for sterile injectables for the pharma giant, says the facility will improve production times but is currently not planned to be used for COVID-19 vaccine production.

“What we’re trying to do here is make a facility that’s modular and that brings our aseptic manufacturing really into the future,” Calitri said.

He added that more jobs in addition to the 450 currently planned could be further down the pipeline.

“They could be in automation. They could be in technical areas, like machine technicians, line technicians, as well as for indirect jobs where we do equipment qualification,” Calitri listed.

The company is receiving more than $10 million over 10 years in tax incentives from the state for the investment and creation of jobs.The city of Portage has also granted property tax credits estimated at more than $32 million over 15 years.

Pfizer says the new building will help overall operations in the future if the company has to undertake another massive vaccine operation.

“We’ve taken three lines out of service for COVID-19 vaccine and if we had had the MAP facility online now, that would have been hugely helpful, so it just gives us more flexibility,” Calitri said.  

Several leaders, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, were on hand for the groundbreaking.

“Everybody who works here really is a hero. That’s not just rhetoric: You are literally saving people’s lives every day,” Stabenow said.

Upton thanked the company for its work on the COVID-19 vaccine and reflected on watching the first shipments leave the facility.

“It was like the first moon launch in terms of the pride that not only the people here had but all across the country,” he said.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2023. Pfizer says the building will be fully operation in 2025.

The Pfizer campus in Portage, which spans 1,300 acres, already employs some 2,800 people. It’s where Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines are being manufactured for all of the United States, and as of Wednesday had 120 million doses already delivered or ready to be shipped.