As the region prepares to welcome Scorpius Biomanufacturing, many residents have questions about what this new high-tech health sciences manufacturer will mean for the community. As often happens with new opportunities, misinformation can easily spread and we’d like to clarify how this development will impact the area. We think once you know the facts, you’ll be just as excited as we are to welcome this major employer to our region.
Scorpius Biomanufacturing manufactures FDA-approved vaccines and other medicines derived from living cells and biological processes, known as biologics. No live pathogens will be used in the plant, kept on-site or reproduced in the facility.
Scorpius Biomanufacturing plans to build a new 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility east of Manhattan on Highway 24, on the northeast side of the intersection with Excel Road. The project should break ground in early 2023, and the plant is anticipated to be operational in 2027, providing approximately 500 new, highly paid jobs.
To meet the company’s insurance-provider’s requirements, the proposed site had to be covered by a city’s fire and police protection. The City of Manhattan therefore island-annexed the acreage immediately surrounding the site. The company chose this site in rural Pottawatomie County because it was the best available site in the region that met the project’s specifications.
The City of Manhattan has no current plans to annex any residential neighborhoods in Blue Township, even though it recently completed an annexation study.
It is common and expected for cities and counties to offer tax incentives to attract new development. However, communities ultimately benefit from future commercial tax revenues and new jobs for residents.
Currently, this undeveloped land is generating very little in property tax revenues; therefore, tax abatements merely extend this status quo until a few years after the plant is fully operational, when Pottawatomie County, the City of Manhattan and USD 383 will begin to collect property taxes on the plant.
A large project like this plant will help offset a huge percentage of the losses expected from the eventual closure of the Jeffrey Energy Plant. If such a project doesn’t materialize in the next decade, the county government will be forced to look for other ways to offset these lost revenues, including raising residential property taxes.
Still not certain what the new plant will mean for you? Here are some common questions and answers.
The most important benefit is that the facility will employ approximately 500 highly paid workers, many of whom will receive specialized training for working in a scientific environment. The initial, average starting salaries are anticipated to be more than $75,000 per year. These jobs will provide opportunities for the local workforce, as well as for many young people, to stay in the region and establish a great career.
Scorpius Biomanufacturing is already working with area high schools, Manhattan Area Technical College and Kansas State University to ensure we have the training in place to prepare our workforce for the company’s needs when the plant opens.
The Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization worked with the Kansas Department of Transportation to model the impact of 500 new jobs on Highway 24 road capacity. Because of shift work and traffic-flow patterns, this study found that the plant should not impact roadway congestion.
There are little or no anticipated negative environmental impacts from this project.
The main waste shed from the facility will be water, which will be heavily treated and purified. The plant will not produce other environmental hazards or pollution such as would be commonly found in other types of manufacturing.
Engineers are working to ensure stormwater infrastructure will handle any runoff generated by developing such a large greenfield near a highway.
To compete for large private sector projects like this $650-million plant, cities and states must put together incentive packages to attract businesses. The result of such incentives that bring in new major employers is to boost commercial property tax revenues and create new jobs for residents.
The Pottawatomie County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to negotiate an economic development grant of up to $5 million to assist with securing the project. The Manhattan City Commission also voiced unanimous support when it approved a resolution to negotiate:
Both agreements are being finalized and will be brought back before their respective commissions later this year for approval.
New, outside investment is the best way to build a local economy and widen the tax base for Pottawatomie County, the City of Manhattan and USD 383. The Scorpius Biomanufacturing project is anticipated to be a $650-million investment into our region. Currently, the land is undeveloped and generates very little in tax revenue. This status quo will simply continue during construction and the plant’s first few years of operation.
In addition to tax revenues, when fully operational, more than $37,000,000 in payroll will be injected into the local economy each year. The total payroll of direct and indirect jobs resulting from the project is anticipated to be more than $1.3 billion over 20 years.
Evergy has announced that Jeffrey Energy Center, a coal-burning power plant outside St. Marys, will be closed in phases over the next 20 years as part of our nation’s switch to clean energy sources. In 2021, Evergy announced that Unit 3 of the plant will be closed by 2030. This closure will impact the commercial property tax revenues of Pottawatomie County.
Currently, Jeffrey Energy Center pays approximately 50% of the county’s total property tax revenues, which keeps residential property taxes lower than in many surrounding counties. It is anticipated that once fully operational and on the tax rolls, Scorpius Biomanufacturing will make up a significant percentage of those lost revenues. Pottawatomie County needs this project and other new commercial investments to offset these losses and keep residential property taxes low.
If you’d like to learn more, read about the project announcement, the incentive package and current hiring efforts. Note: Scorpius Biomanufacturing was formerly named Scorpion Biological Services.