Illumina, a biotech recently named the “world’s smartest company,” said Tuesday it will invest in a new manufacturing facility employing 300 people thanks to a tax rebate from the city.

The decision to expand in San Diego, rather than seek an out-of-state location, was announced by Illumina CEO Jay Flatley and Mayor Kevin Faulconer at a press conference at the company’s headquarters campus in the University City area.

The company, founded in 1998, has pioneered desktop instruments for sequencing the human genome, reducing costs and making possible personalized genetic medicine.

“We’re excited to continue to grow a state-of-the art campus that will not only contribute to Illumina’s success, but also contribute to the growth of San Diego’s life sciences community,” Flatley said.

The city will provide a $1.5 million rebate of future sales and use taxes, and in return Illumna will keep its existing manufacturing and sales jobs in San Diego for a 10-year period. The company had been considering locations in Poway and Memphis, TN.

“This means hundreds of high-wage, middle-class jobs are staying in our city,” Faulconer said. “We look forward to a decade of progress.”

Illumina is the city’s 12th largest taxpayer. Under the agreement, the city will rebate 70 percent of taxes above the current level until the $1.5 million total is reached. After that, the city would collect all of the taxes above the current level.

The agreement will be presented to the City Counil on July 21, and Councilmember Sherri Lightner, in whose district Illumina is located, predicted “overwhelming support.” Lightner said she was delighted that the company is “staying right here in my council district.”

Faulconer said he met with Illumina officials within 24 hours of hearing from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. that Illumina was considering other locations.

Mark Caferty, president and CEO of the EDC, said Illumina’s decision is a crucial one for the development of the life sciences community in San Diego. “This is the story of a company that is doing enormous things…changing the world from San Diego.”

The new manufacturing facility will be located on the northeast corner of Nobel Drive and Judicial Drive and open in the second quarter of 2016.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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