Athens business poised for expansion, job creation

Story excerpt provided by The Athens Messenger.

Written by Steve Robb.

A business in the Ohio University Innovation Center is planning a major expansion that would move the company to its own facility and create about 75 additional jobs.

RXQ Compounding, a company that makes sterile drugs for hospitals and physicians, is planning a $3.5-$4 million expansion, according to founder and President Edward Zatta.

“We’re getting ready to purchase a building from OhioHealth out in Albany,” Zatta explained, with additional space to be constructed. “We’re going to have about a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility there.”

The building in Albany, located on Blizzard Lane, was originally built as a physician’s office for OhioHealth and was later leased to Holzer Health System. Also, OhioHealth had some administrative and billing personnel there until they were moved to Athens, said Mark Seckinger, president of OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. He said closing of the sale should take place soon, although he declined to confirm that RXQ was the potential buyer.

Plans call for RXQ Compounding to construct a new compounding building and a shipping/receiving building. Even with that construction, Zatta said, there will be land remaining. Zatta explained that the plan is to first move RXQ’s administrative offices into the purchased building, with the new manufacturing space ready for use the second quarter of 2018. He said the company currently uses two clean rooms with three separate work areas at the Innovation Center, and the expansion is slated to have 14 work areas.

Zatta said the company has 22 employees, and that number is expected to increase to around 100 over a three-year period.

He said he hopes to get confirmation in the next few days that JobsOhio will help finance the expansion.

“Our goal here is to keep generating jobs and keep growing, and try to find other opportunities to do that,” Zatta said.

The company has been manufacturing in the Innovation Center for over two years, but that only started after working through a lengthy regulatory process, according to Zatta.

“It’s a very regulatory-intensive type of industry,” he explained.

Zatta, who owns four pharmacies that include two in Athens at the Castrop Center and Ohio University, said the idea for RXQ Compounding grew out of an Ohio Pharmacists Association meeting in 2014 at which an attorney explained how new FDA regulations would impact compounding done by pharmacies. The new rules allowed for creation of compounding outsourcing facilities. Zatta said he approached the attorney for help in creating one, which led to formation of RXQ Compounding.

When asked for an example of what RXQ produces, Zatta mentioned that there is a nationwide shortage of injectable sodium bicarbonate, which is baking soda.

“We make sodium bicarb for hospitals to use. This is a drug that doesn’t sound like this great wonder drug, but it’s on every crash cart in every hospital if you need it…,” Zatta said, adding that there are other medical uses for it.

Currently, RXQ is licensed in 33 states to sell its projects, according to Zatta.

There have been preliminary discussions about the Athens County Port Authority possibly issuing tax-exemption bonds for RXQ expansion, although Zatta said it would be for a future expansion beyond the one currently planned. Sara Marrs-Maxfield, secretary for the Port Authority and executive director of the Athens County Economic Development Council, said the Port Authority board hasn’t heard details of what RXQ would do with the bond financing if it is issued. She said Zatta will likely make a presentation to the board next month.

Zatta said the company plans to stay in Athens County long term.

“We’re actually trying to create jobs, we’re not just here having a business that’s going to go off to some investment banker and be transferred away from here,” he said. “RXQ is going to be here in the foreseeable future … We’re going to be in the Athens area in perpetuity.”

Originally published August 27, 2017.

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