A Virginia Beach organ and tissue bank are continuing to expand by spending close to $1.8 million in upgrades at its facility in the Lynnhaven business corridor.
LifeNet Health, the only authorized organ procurement organization in Virginia, is planning to upgrade its 2900 Sabre St. facility as part of a spate of 2019 development announcements in Hampton Roads and across the country.
“I think that some of the newest things we're doing in terms of regenerative medicine and life sciences will get a clearer focus at this facility,” said Douglas Wilson, LifeNet executive vice president.
LifeNet also plans to create 44 new positions, with an average annual salary of more than $55,000, as part of the expansion.
Currently, the 19,900-square-foot facility contains the nonprofit’s quality assurance department and medical directors. The facility also includes LifeNet’s donor services department — which helps families in the organ and tissue donation process — and some administrative functions, Wilson said. The space currently employs 75 people.
The new space will be devoted to the life sciences and research arms of LifeNet, Wilson said. The additional labs will be used for drug discovery and to “beef up” the nonprofit’s patent portfolio, he said.
Also, LifeNet will perform personalized medicine at the facility — a process where a patient’s cells are used to test out potential drug cures.
The organization already performs some research functions at its headquarters off Princess Anne Road. In fact, that’s one of the reasons LifeNet is choosing to invest in this location.
“Fortunately, it’s very close,” Wilson said, adding it is about three miles away from the headquarters.
The nonprofit plans to lease an additional 22,000 square feet of space at the location. It plans to spend $1 million on real estate, $595,000 in furnishings, fixtures and equipment and another $200,000 in materials and technology.
With the additional positions, LifeNet will employ more than 1,000 people full-time in Virginia Beach.
The Virginia Beach Development Authority also recently awarded a $100,000 development grant to LifeNet for the project. The grant program was started more than two decades ago to help small businesses expand. It’s funded through the city’s 75-cents-per-pack cigarette tax.
“LifeNet Health works every day to improve and save lives, and as one of our leading corporate citizens, we could not be prouder of its continued success,” Virginia Beach Interim Economic Development Director Taylor Adams said in a news release. “The medical breakthroughs this company seeks to develop are a testament to its ongoing investments and commitment to quality growth.”
This is the fourth development grant LifeNet has received from Virginia Beach. Wilson credited LifeNet’s success to its focus as a mission-driven nonprofit. He said the grants have sped up the expansion process and helped the nonprofit meet its goals.
LifeNet isn’t the only entity developing in the Lynnhaven area. Developer Mark Gold announced plans in March to spend $9.2 million renovating and upgrading the Lynnhaven North shopping center, according to a March 23 Virginian-Pilot story. Last summer, German car part maker IMS Gear announced plans to spend $1.05 million to upgrade its CNC cutting machine.
Earlier this year, LifeNet said it would spend around $6 million on building improvements at its Bayside Road satellite facility near Norfolk International Airport. Then, in May, the nonprofit opened a new location in San Diego.
LifeNet also has facilities in Seattle, Florida and Vienna, Austria.