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Biotech startup ArborGen establishes headquarters near Charleston, SC
Dec. 1, 2002ArborGen Press Release
The company signed a long-term agreement to lease state-of-the-art research facilities that offer the opportunity to expand their biotechnology services. ArborGen specializes in developing and commercializing technology, products and services that provide environmental and productivity benefits for the forestry industry.
In addition to the facility announcement, ArborGen recently named Dr. Barbara H. Wells as its new Chief Executive Officer.
The new headquarters and CEO are a key strategic combination, according to Dr. Maud Hinchee, Chief Technology Officer for ArborGen. “Barbara Wells’ experience and accomplishments help give us the unique positioning to be the leading global company in forest biotechnology. In addition, our new headquarters offer the resources that allow us to create technologies that improve productivity in plantation forests and reduce the need to harvest from important natural forests.”
The company’s vision is to create products that benefit consumers, sustain the environment and provide value for forestry. Launched in 2000, the company now employs or contracts more than 90 scientists and technicians to conduct its world-class forest research, including 47 full time employees at its Charleston area headquarters. It is expected that the number of employees in South Carolina will expand by 5 to 10 percent within the next year. The company also contracts research and facilities in New Zealand.
“An innovative new company like ArborGen is a tremendous addition to our biotech community and adds to our growing reputation in this sector,” said F. Eugene “Gene” Williams, Chairman of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which helped bring the company to the region. “Further, we have a strong employee base that will help the company meet its expansion and research goals today and into the future. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
In addition to the knowledgeable, available workforce, ArborGen selected the Charleston area because the region has a well-developed forestry-based community that understands the need for the type of technology the company produces as well as an available state-of-the art lease facility.
ArborGen’s current research projects include the development of faster growing trees to improve the productivity of tree plantations; methods to produce trees that are straighter, resistant to disease and have improved structural wood properties; and studies on gene discovery and function that contribute important traits in trees, such as wood quality and yield. These innovations enable forest owners to grow more wood on less land – and better meet the increasing demand for wood products such as paper and packaging.
Dr. Wells, the company’s new CEO, brings a strong scientific and commercial background to the role of shaping and driving this research and growth. She comes to ArborGen from Emergent Genetics, where she was Vice President for Latin America, and Monsanto, a global leader in biotechnology development, where she spent 17 years as a product manager and developer.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to lead the ArborGen team,” noted Dr. Wells. “The company’s leadership position puts us in an excellent position to be the provider of choice for these products for the forestry industry and it is personally very exciting to be playing a significant role in bringing these products to our customers.”
ArborGen’s research is focused on tree species that represent many of the seedlings now planted by the forest industry around the world, including eucalyptus and poplar species, radiata and loblolly pine. These improved trees are expected to enable forest landowners to meet the growing demand for paper and wood products while strengthening their ability to manage forestlands in a sustainable and eco-efficient manner for the benefit of future generations. Increasing the productivity of tree plantations safely and sustainability will help meet the world’s wood and fiber needs without increasing pressure on native forests. For more information, visit www.arborgen.com.
The Charleston Regional Development Alliance works to broaden and diversify business investment throughout the three-county Charleston, S.C. metro area. The public/private partnership markets the area as a preferred location for business, facilitates the siting of business operations and offers a one-stop shop to streamline the site selection process. Founded in 1995 to mitigate the impact of a major naval base closure, the Alliance has helped more than 120 companies find a new home or expand facilities in the Charleston region, bringing over 12,000 new jobs to the area. To learn more, go to www.charleston-for-business.com.