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 did not return a request for more information by the time of publication for this story. 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. “We were very excited about that,” he said. “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.
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