The departure of Bristol-Myers Squibb, a long-time corporate presence in Hopewell Township and one of the area’s largest employers and tax ratables, has become an increasing concern to Township residents and officials. Filling the vacancy even led the Hopewell Township Committee to expand the area’s land use in June of last year, allowing medicine, pharmacology, and biologics to be produced on the site.
Months later, the Township announced a new tenant to the BMS site, New Jersey-based PTC Therapeutics, which will take a portion of the site and help, in part, fill the economic gap that BMS will leave behind.
“One of our biggest concerns was that [BMS] was one of our largest employers,” Committee member Kevin Kuchinski said in a phone interview. “Finding the right replacement tenant and successfully remarketing that site is a critical priority for the Township.”
According to Kuchinski, BMS significantly contributed to the economy of Hopewell Township, accounting for approximately six percent of the Township’s tax revenue, which equates to roughly $1,000 per household. While PTC may not be filling the entirety of the BMS campus, Kuchinski believes that their residency will fill a large part of BMS’s presence.
“We believe we’re going to recover a significant portion of the tax contribution,” Kuchinski said. Additionally, according to Kuchinski, PTC signing a long-term lease with a potential to expand helps validate the space for other companies, with Kuchinski explaining that pharmaceutical companies “tend to work in clusters.”
PTC has plenty of local history, founded by Rutgers professor, Stuart Peltz, in 1998. PTC Therapeutics is headquartered in South Plainfield, NJ roughly an hour from Hopewell Township.
On the Hopewell campus, PTC will focus on “[supporting] production of materials for pre-clinical and clinical trials for [their] new gene therapy platform focused on rare disorders,” according to Baj. Kuchinski noted that PTC focuses on “rare, often neurologic disorders,” such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
“It’s a huge impact for a relatively small population but it’s transformative,” Kuchinski said of PTC’s work. “It really can not only arrest the progression of the disease but, in some cases, kids are able to progress in their regular muscular development.”
“We are rooted in science, but compelled by a unifying purpose to tackle rare diseases that have a tremendous impact on patients and their families every day,” Baj said. “Our development approach is driven by the underlying cause of devastating rare disorders and we consider the best approach based on our scientific expertise to develop transformative treatments.”Both Baj and Kuchinski described what PTC would be doing to help the community as well in a similar fashion to BMS.
“We are excited to be able to hire many highly-qualified and motivated former BMS employees, who we are confident share our vision for innovation through collaboration,” Baj said. “We also plan to continue the BMS tradition of providing support for local activities such as the Watershed Butterfly Festival.”
While PTC will not fill the entirety of BMS’s contributions to the Township, they intend to be a “very valued partner,” according to Kuchinski, who sees PTC’s arrival as a promising start to patching the economic hole left by BMS.
“Our intent is, if there are other companies that express interest in the BMS site, we would like to see them in the mold of PTC,” Kuchinski said.
While there is no set date for when PTC will open its doors in the Township, Kuchinski said that they could be set as early as July of this year.