Business & Tech

Siemens plans to add as many as 700 jobs at its Walpole plant

14sotaxrelief- Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics is considering building a $300 million addition to its factory in Walpole. (Siemens Healthcare)

Siemens AG plans to expand its already formidable manufacturing plant in Walpole.

German industrial giant Siemens AG plans to expand its laboratory diagnostics manufacturing in Walpole, adding 400 to 700 jobs in the next decade — or sooner — on top of the 700 already there.

Siemens’ board, at a Wednesday morning meeting in Munich, voted to approve a $300 million expansion of the Walpole campus. Siemens acquired the site in 2007, when it bought Bayer Diagnostics, a business unit of the German pharmaceuticals company.

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The approval vote came after state officials awarded Siemens and Walpole a $4.2 million package of tax breaks, infrastructure outlays, and workforce training grants. Millions of dollars’ worth of additional tax incentives are possible in coming years.

Separately, the town of Walpole earlier this year agreed to grant Siemens a generous property tax break amounting to about 75 percent annually over the next two decades. Under the agreement, Siemens will pay about $8 million in additional taxes to the town because of the expansion, but that’s about $21 million less than it would have paid without the deal, according to town officials.

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In addition to the new jobs and tax revenue, the deal will offer the town other benefits, said Walpole selectmen chairman Eric Kraus – including hundreds of thousands of dollars in permitting fees, a new ladder fire truck, and snow plowing services.

“The biggest commitment a company like Siemens can make to any town is when they expand,” Kraus said.

Siemens spokesman Lance Longwell said that in addition to its employees in Walpole, the company has 360 workers in Beverly and at a site in Norwood that serves as global headquarters for Siemens’ point-of-care diagnostics business. That business sells medical tests that are conducted in doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms.

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At the Walpole plant, Siemens produces instruments and components for tests used in hospital and research labs and in large clinical lab testing companies. It also conducts business operations and research and development and manages a warehouse.

The expanded production space will allow Siemens to manufacture a next-generation laboratory product called Atellica Solution, which will let labs customize multiple tests of blood and tissue samples and rapidly analyze the results. It will be shipped throughout North America and Europe. The product has received European clearance and is awaiting approval from US regulators.

“We’re hoping to add up to 700 jobs in Walpole when the project is complete,” Longwell said. “Walpole has been a great site and this makes a lot of sense for us.”

Longwell said Siemens will begin renovating its existing space and expects to break ground next summer on the four-year expansion project. He saidthe size of the spacehasn’t been finalized. The company now operates on about 500,000 square feet on the site. It was last expanded in 2008, shortly after Siemens acquired it, when the company added a manufacturing clean room.

As part of the state’s incentive package, Siemens won initial approval this year of $735,000 in tax breaks from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center in exchange for creating 30 full-time jobs, along with a commitment to receive further tax incentives as it adds more jobs. The state also agreed to award up to $2.5 million to Walpole to support road improvements leading to the Siemens plant and $1 million in workforce development training grants.

Travis McCready, president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, said the Siemens expansion represents a broadening of the life sciences industry across the state.

“Siemens is a great opportunity for a town outside Greater Boston to become a bigger player in the ecosystem,” McCready said. “It’s very significant for us to be able to communicate to the world that there’s a vibrant climate for the life sciences outside Boston and Cambridge. It also speaks to our ability to manufacture in Massachusetts. It’s not just about biopharma. We have a very vibrant medical device and diagnostics industry in the state.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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