Purdue Pharma is investing $59 million to build a plant in Durham.
A pharmaceutical company specializing in pain medication, Purdue Pharma is based in Stamford, Connecticut and has another North Carolina location in Wilson. The company decided to bring a plant to Durham because of its position in the Research Triangle and proximity to major research universities, said James Heins, senior director of public affairs at Purdue Pharma.
"Durham is an ideal location for a pharmaceutical company because the region offers a strong base of technical talent and is situated close to four of the state's major universities," Heins wrote in an email Friday.
Ted Conner, vice president of economic development and community sustainability at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, noted that Durham's attraction for pharmaceutical companies goes beyond just the available work force.
"[Pharmaceutical companies] come here because of the talent that we have got here and the quality of life that we have got here,” Conner said.
Although Purdue Pharma is certain of its plans to move into Durham, construction has not yet begun, Heins added.
“We haven’t even broken ground,” he said.
After the plant is built, Heins said the company has plans to reach out to the Durham community after it is established in the city.
Conner noted that, in the past, companies coming to Durham have gotten involved in the city through community service but Purdue Pharma may find its own role in the community.
“It’s not like there’s a prescriptive way,” Conner said. “Each company gets involved in its own way.”
Currently, Purdue Pharma is involved in a variety of charitable organizations, such as United Way, American Cancer Society, and the Wilson Education Partnership.
Durham resident Carol Woods, however, expressed skepticism about the extent of Purdue Pharma’s philanthropic motivations, but said that the company will likely create jobs.
“That's a big 'if' to trust them just because they said [they would help people]," Woods said. "It could be a good thing for people."
Conner noted, that Duke's presence plays a role in creating intellectual atmosphere of the area.
“Duke sets a tenor for the community with its educational prowess," Conner said.
The University's focus on research without commercial benefits can actually be discouraging to companies with commercial interests, Conner said. He added that Purdue Pharma's presence will affect both Duke and Durham.
"Many times, when something happens in a community, it has a ripple effect," Conner said.