Healey gives life science firms $24.4m in tax breaks

Moderna, biggest winner, receives $3.1m incentive, promises 209 jobs


GOV. MAURA HEALEY and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced $24.4 million in tax incentive awards Tuesday that they expect will help 43 life sciences companies create nearly 1,600 new jobs, and officials teased more “exciting” life sciences news around the corner as the BIO International Convention lands in Boston next week.

More than 1,000 of the job commitments are outside of Boston and Cambridge, including the site of the largest incentive — Moderna’s Norwood manufacturing facility, which received a $3.135 million incentive and committed to 209 new jobs through its expansion there.

“Our dedication to Massachusetts is very strong,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said at the event, which was held at the company’s Norwood campus. “We just announced recently an expansion in Marlborough. At Moderna, our mission is to deliver for patients transformative medicine to change their lives. With the support of the state, we believe we’re just beginning.”

Moderna paid $91 million for the Marlborough manufacturing facility, the Boston Business Journal reported Tuesday, and is also awaiting final approval on a local tax sweetener. Marlborough officials passed a real estate tax break plan for the corporation, the BBJ reported, which includes a complete exemption through fiscal 2027.

Moderna, the maker of a COVID vaccine, has seen its revenues and profits decline from stratospheric levels but its financial results remain strong. In the first quarter of this year, the company reported net income of $79 million on revenue of $1.9 billion, down from net income of $3.7 billion on revenue of $6.1 billion during the same three-month period a year ago.

“Looking at this through our business development lens, it’s important to note that we don’t utilize our tax incentives to pay for every single job a company can support on its own. For me, it’s about relaying to a company that we have your back,” Life Sciences Center CEO Kenn Turner said of his agency’s incentive program, as he turned toward Bancel.

Turner described “fiercer than ever” competition for biotech companies, especially in the manufacturing space, and said that “companies have options other than us, and we are well aware of that.”

The awards include a $1.875 million tax incentive for Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which committed to 125 new jobs in Lexington, and Sarepta Therapeutics, which plans to expand with 100 jobs in Cambridge and received a $1.5 million incentive.

Officials highlighted the regional diversity of the awards, and Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao said 80 percent of the expected new jobs are set to be created outside of Cambridge and Boston.

Hao said the “next phase” of economic development is to expand biotech successes from the Boston area into the rest of the state, along with involving “all kinds of pathways” for people who may not be college graduates or have advanced degrees to join the sector.

“Countless companies with their [research and development] base in Kendall Square are finding their manufacturing footprint can be in Worcester, in Woburn, in Framingham,” Turner said.

And the Life Sciences Center CEO said he hopes to support companies in locating research and development arms in places like Worcester, manufacturing facilities further west (in Springfield “or even the Berkshires”), and side-by-side research and manufacturing operations in places like Beverly, Brockton, or Haverhill.

“We pride ourselves in being the global epicenter for life sciences,” Gov. Maura Healey told the crowd in Norwood, adding that her administration is committed to “retaining that title” and “lengthening that lead.”

Hao also touted the state’s status as “the world leaders” of life sciences, but said her business background taught her that “when you’re Number 1, you’ve got a target on your back.”

“Everybody is trying to be you and catch up,” the secretary said, and told attendees that “we need your ideas” about how to continue the sector’s growth in the Bay State.

The governor could be offering some ideas of her own next week when the BIO International Convention comes to town June 5.

Healey referenced the convention, which also visited Boston in 2007 and 2018 when it set the stage for prior governors at the time to unveil or push for passage of their own biotech initiatives.

“Life science industry leaders are going to come from all around the world, and we will be making the case for our continued leadership. I know you know I’m a little bit competitive, and I don’t plan on losing ground to any other states or any other countries when it comes to life sciences, so we’re in this to win,” Healey said.

Turner promised we’ve got lots of exciting stuff that the guv will be talking about just as early as next week at BIO.”

After Tuesday’s speaking program, a reporter asked Healey if she’d be moving to reauthorize state borrowing to support the industry — last approved in 2018 and set to expire in a couple years — and what the amount and timeframe would be. Healey didn’t say yes, or no.

“You’re going to hear us talk a lot about things this month related to life sciences, so I’ll hold on some of that,” Healey replied, adding that investing in the industry is an “absolute imperative.”

Earlier in the event, Healey referred to Gov. Deval Patrick’s 2007 legislation that funded the tax incentive program and other life sciences investments. She called it a “big bet” and attributed the state’s status as a “global epicenter” of biotech to that borrowing law.

The Legislature passed a five-year reauthorization in 2018, the same week the BIO convention was in Boston. The bonding was originally set to expire this June, before the Legislature last year extended it to June 2025.

Speaking after a tour of the Moderna facility, Healey marveled at seeing and hearing from employees who worked on the COVID-19 vaccine, resulting in “hundreds of millions of lives … saved all around this planet.” She added that “that story of possibility exists within each and every one of our life sciences companies here.”

Meet the Author

Sam Doran

Reporter/photographer, State House News Service
Other recipients of the tax incentives unveiled Tuesday include giants like Eli Lilly and Company ($494,000, expected to create 26 jobs) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ($1.155 million, committed to 77 jobs), along with other players like Waltham-based Snapdragon Chemistry ($150,000, 10 jobs) and Wakefield’s Optikos Corporation ($180,000, 12 jobs).

“We value you as partners here in Massachusetts, and we want to see you grow,” Healey told the executives.