AstraZeneca plans to layoff 210 employees as a result of the upcoming closure of operations in Boulder and Longmont. Chris Wood/BizWest.

AstraZeneca closing Boulder and Longmont locations, laying off 210 employees

BOULDER and LONGMONT — AstraZeneca PLC is closing its Colorado operations, which includes facilities in Boulder and Longmont, and laying off 210 employees.

The locations at its Boulder Manufacturing Center, 5550 Airport Blvd., and the Longmont Manufacturing Center, 4000 Nelson Road, are being “permanently terminated due to the closing of manufacturing operations there in the entirety,” AstraZeneca wrote in a WARN notice letter to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Most terminations are expected for March 22, although some may continue after that date. Layoffs include roles such as manufacturing specialists, production technicians, quality control analysts and quality control senior analysts. Affected employees are being notified of their individual dates of termination. 

AstraZeneca is closing the locations to increase its own efficiency.

“To increase efficiencies in our global biologics supply chain, we have made the decision to discontinue operations at the Boulder and Longmont manufacturing facilities and preserve the sites for potential sale,” Michele Meixell, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca, said in an emailed statement to BizWest.

Meixell added that while most layoffs will occur in March, some core staff will remain to support the facility decommissioning through Q4 2019. No other locations were impacted by the decision.

The closure of the facilities is a blow to the region’s bioscience community, said Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council. He said when the company first announced that it would acquire the Amgen facility in Boulder in 2015, the community was very excited about the work they were doing. (Soon after, AstraZeneca also acquired the Amgen location in Longmont.) In Boulder, Harald said AstraZeneca was manufacturing immunotherapy treatments for cancer. Meixell said in her statement that neither location are presently licensed for commercial operations, but they were due to form part of AstraZeneca’s global biologics supply chain before the decision to close them. 

“We were very excited about that,” Harald said, referencing the research being done in Boulder. “It makes the disappointment about their decision even greater. Our thoughts go out first and foremost to the employees affected by the decision.”

Harald said that the Economic Council will work with the county, city of Boulder, state departments and the Colorado Bioscience Association to help provide resources and support to employees affected by the closure.

“This can be a volatile industry,” he said. “I think the [area’s bioscience] industry will see this as part of the risks and challenges of doing business in cutting-edge devices and pharmaceutical products. But this is big and affecting hundreds of employees, and that’s where my thoughts go first. As to the reputation for the Denver metro or Boulder metro bioscience industries, I think most seasoned industry observers and workers will see this as part of what can happen.”

If there is a silver lining to the disappointing news, he said, it’s that the Front Range has a strong bioscience community that has been struggling with a shortage of talented labor and that AstraZeneca’s loss of employees could be the gain of other companies.

“It’s a robust industry, and my hope would be these employees will see the opportunity for new employment before very long. That’s a cause for some optimism,” he said.

It is unclear what the future holds for AstraZeneca’s 300,000-square-foot facility Boulder facility, purchased from Amgen Inc. for $14.6 million in 2015, or the roughly 160-acre Longmont campus AstraZeneca bought from the same company for $64.5 million in 2016.

“The site will be preserved for potential sale,” Meixell said. “However, no further decisions have been made regarding the future of the site.”

Geoffrey Keys, president of real estate firm Keys Commercial in Boulder, said wouldn’t be shocked if the large office spaces are “broken up into smaller spaces” and sold or rented.

“It seems to lend itself to being divided,” he said.

Regardless of whether the facility is divided, Keys said he doesn’t expect the Boulder offices to remain vacant for an extended period of time.

LakeCentre Business Park, home to the AstraZeneca offices in Boulder, “works really well for tenants,” he said. “It’s a great location.”

“Depending on how it is marketed, it could be very competitive with the new (office space) product — it would almost certainly be cheaper” than building or buying a brand new office building, Keys said.

— Lucas High contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a response from AstraZeneca regarding the decision to close the Boulder and Longmont locations and to include information on the real estate. 

BOULDER and LONGMONT — AstraZeneca PLC is closing its Colorado operations, which includes facilities in Boulder and Longmont, and laying off 210 employees.

The locations at its Boulder Manufacturing Center, 5550 Airport Blvd., and the Longmont Manufacturing Center, 4000 Nelson Road, are being “permanently terminated due to the closing of manufacturing operations there in the entirety,” AstraZeneca wrote in a WARN notice letter to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Most terminations are expected for March 22, although some may continue after that date. Layoffs include roles such as manufacturing specialists, production technicians, quality control analysts and quality control senior analysts. Affected employees are being notified of their individual dates of termination. 

AstraZeneca is closing the locations to increase its own efficiency.

“To increase efficiencies in our global biologics supply chain, we have made the decision to discontinue operations at the Boulder and Longmont manufacturing facilities and preserve the sites for potential sale,” Michele Meixell, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca, said in an emailed statement to BizWest.

Meixell added that while most layoffs will occur in March, some core staff will remain to support the facility decommissioning through Q4 2019. No other locations were impacted by the decision.

The closure of the facilities is a blow to the region’s bioscience community, said Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council. He said when the company first announced that it would acquire the Amgen facility in Boulder in 2015, the community was very excited about the work they were…