Bayer’s upcoming projects to create significant number of construction jobs

The biotech company plans to transform its Berkeley operations with up to 1 million square feet of new building over the next 30 years.

Bayer is building a Cell Therapy Launch facility on its 46-acre campus in Southwest Berkeley. Credit: Bayer

This story is brought to you by Bayer Berkeley.

Bayer’s planned expansions to its West Berkeley campus over the next 30 years are likely to bring more than $1 billion to the Bay Area in new construction. The company’s proposed development plan would create substantial jobs for the region’s building trades, according to a recent economic impact study.

Bayer currently employs about 1,000 people at its 46-acre Berkeley facility, which is focused on manufacturing treatments for hemophilia A. The company has been a cornerstone of the Berkeley economy for years and is gearing up to expand its operations, if an extension of its 30-year development agreement with the city is approved.

As part of its proposed site plan and development agreement extension, the company will demolish 267,000 square feet of outdated facilities and add 918,000 square feet of new buildings. Most of the new facilities will be designed for pharmaceutical production, though the expansion also includes supporting facilities such as new product development labs, warehouse, administration, utilities, and maintenance space.

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute recently completed an economic impact analysis that examined the company’s current and projected contributions to the region. Bayer has a current total economic impact of $353.2 million in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, supporting 2,221 full-time equivalent jobs. That impact is set to grow with the proposed expansion, reaching $613.1 million annually (in 2020 dollars).

Jobs range from entry- to master-level

The Institute forecasts the construction work alone will support 1,698 full-time equivalent job-years, a measure that represents the combined value of the vast array of tradespeople who will enable development for the coming years. The projects will include opportunities from apprentice-level to master-level trades positions.

“For nearly three decades building trades members have had the opportunity to work at the Bayer site and contribute to advancing medicine — these are very special projects because we can connect our work to our families,” said Rob Stoker, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda County. “The proposed master plan projects more opportunities for another 30 years, and we’re encouraging the City of Berkeley to approve the extension of its Development Agreement with Bayer to help bring these jobs to the region.”

Facilities construction on a biopharmaceutical campus is high-end work, from structural requirements to withstand earthquakes to outfitting buildings to accommodate new technology. The Institute estimates the cost per square foot will range from $800 to $915, depending on the specific facility.

“Our construction is more intense than normal,” said Drew Johnston, Bayer’s vice president of site engineering. “Especially in our manufacturing facilities, we offer the opportunity to use all trade skills. Our projects require all types of materials, equipment, communication and control systems, utility services, and facility types from general space to cleanrooms. And the density is incredibly high, so the workmanship requirements are incredibly high too.”

Bayer is planning the construction in two phases. Phase 1 will run from 2022 to 2032, and phase 2 from 2032 to 2052.

Bayer works with local building firms

Rather than trying to build the entire project itself, Bayer engages engineering firms and general contractors to work together, thus creating work for local employers and engaging the various building trades, Johnston said.

“Over the years we’ve benefitted from the great work done through contracting with these specialized firms for life science-sector infrastructure and their engagement of workers across the building trades in the region,” he said. “Projects are built more efficiently, and the relationship between the contractors, trades and Bayer enables mutual success — we find that just like our employees, these companies and trades members are passionate about helping improve the lives of patients — we have a common goal.”

The Bay Area is rich in talent, giving Bayer and other area projects ready access to people highly skilled and trained in every aspect of construction.

“To be a successful contractor in this area and build these facilities, repeatedly, you have to be on your game,” Johnston said. “I’ve always been extremely impressed by the building trades in the region. I never have to worry about whether a particular skill set exists locally.”

All of the new construction will be conducted with Bayer’s environmental commitments in mind. Globally, the company has pledged to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030. This includes efficient facilities and use of sustainable practices and renewable resources.

To learn more about Bayer in Berkeley and their plans for the future, visit www.bayer.com/berkeley.

​​This story is written and sponsored by Bayer Berkeley. Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In the Bay Area, Bayer’s Pharmaceutical division has operations in San Francisco, home of its Open Innovation Center — North America West, and Berkeley.