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Biotech company annouces expansion in Jefferson Co. | News

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Biotech company annouces expansion in Jefferson Co.

WHITE HALL (KTHV) - The push to grow needed industry in one Arkansas county gets a boost Tuesday.

A Little Rock-based bio-tech company Vivione Biosciences announced expansion plans for Jefferson County, specifically a facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

There are some good prospects here, even for some folks who've been part of the draw down at the arsenal. A company representative says she had piles of resumes from arsenal workers.

Now this year the expected job hires aren't huge, maybe a dozen or so. But in the next three to five years, if things go well, the company's president says another one hundred jobs could come with potential manufacturing. 

Inside this laboratory at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, a tour showcases economic promise for Jefferson County.

"Jefferson County is so honored to have Vivione here, so what I would like to tell you is Welcome Home," said Lou Ann Nisbett, President and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County.                   

It's a new home for bio-tech business Vivione. It makes product safety testing kits for industries, like medical and food processing and even bio-defense. 

"We think the Pine Bluff Arsenal and we think everybody here is world class facility that's going to allow us to take the next step in our life cycle," CEO Kevin Kuykendall said.

Kuykendall says after five years of research, they're ready to start selling these kits and hoping to revolutionize the industry. 

"Our rapid platform is going to allow not only the food safety, the clinical, but several other things across the world to be diagnosed in a matter of minutes or hours versus days," Kuykendall said.

The focus at the Pine Bluff Arsenal lab this year is building these kits and testing them for that speed, and to do it? "Probably somebody that has experience in lab services, chemistry, microbiology, we're very much interested in college graduates," Kuykendall said.

It's an opportunity knocking now and down the road with possible testing kit part manufacturing in Jefferson County. 

"It seems appropriate that to remind our young people to focus on the science classes, wouldn't you say?" Nisbett said.

It's a good idea, kicking off on this lab tour, and everyone here ready for the "test."

A big part of bringing this company to Jefferson County came from an economic development sales tax that voters approved last year. Part of the money goes to business recruitment. The company's CEO also said Tuesday that none of this would be possible without strong partners in the community from the chamber of commerce to the National Center for Toxicological Research.

As for the jobs, we're told that they'll include positions like lab techs and some senior vice president slots over the next year. For more information, click on the above link for Vivione.  



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