While it nurtures algae cultures in the Painted Desert sunlight, Algae Biosciences Incorporated is also cultivating some much-needed economic growth in northeast Arizona. AlgaeBio announced on Aug. 17 that it is engaging immediately in a $5-million, first-phase expansion of its production facilities just east of Holbrook, Ariz. This development is expected to allow the company to reach large-scale commercial production of omega-3 fatty acid oils by year’s end. Just as importantly, it will provide both permanent and temporary employment to the Holbrook region, and tax dollars to Navajo County. “This first phase of expansion will allow us to become a major player in the global microalgae industry. It’s also creating permanent jobs and stimulating the regional economy in Navajo County, and that’s just as significant to us,” says Robert J. Thompson, AlgaeBio’s chairman. This initial phase of expansion calls for the manufacture and incorporation of 1,500 of AlgaeBio’s proprietary bioreactors, as well as harvesting and support equipment, which will be housed in a new addition to the facility.
By late 2012, AlgaeBio will produce a monthly total of 5,900 kilograms of whole algae powder—yielding 1,060 kilograms of omega-3 fatty acid oil and 4,250 kilograms of high-protein algae meal, with 590 kilograms of that original figure retained as whole algae powder. Those monthly figures will rise to 16,400 kilograms of whole algae powder—resulting in 4,000 kilograms of omega-3 fatty acid oil, 11,000 kilograms of algae meal, and 500 kilograms retained as whole algae powder—by the end of 2013.
On the employment front, AlgaeBio has hired five full-time Arizona employees since May. The company’s present complement of seven full-time employees will expand to 10 by September 2012, 15 by September 2013 and 19 by September 2014. “This is an extremely important development to the local economy,” says AlgaeBio co-founder and chief executive officer Andy Ayers. “At the moment, Holbrook’s major industry is tourism, since it’s a stopping point on I-40 (which follows the historic alignment of U.S. Route 66).” In addition, AlgaeBio’s economic multiplier ratio is five-to-one; meaning five jobs are created in the surrounding community for every permanent job established by the biotechnology company. The first phase of the expansion process itself will also be supplying temporary jobs in the Holbrook region. Officials with MMI Construction Services of Mesa, Ariz., the company that won the contract to handle this stage of AlgaeBio’s expansion, estimate that the project—with an anticipated completion date of Dec. 31, 2011—will require one additional full-time project manager and five to seven additional employees, including welders and laborers. “We’re going to tap into some local talent for some welders and laborers from the northeast part of the state,” says Jeremy Fuller, Business Development Manager with MMI Construction Services.
Thanks to its enviable production capabilities, AlgaeBio’s downstream opportunities include: pharmaceuticals, such as designer proteins, vaccines, enzymes, antibodies, and research agents; sustainable biofuels; macroalgae for human food; organic pigments that can replace synthetic dyes in food and cosmetics; organic compounds called carotenoids, which as potent antioxidants reduce cell damage and fight disease; and liquid feed for marine life.
ABOUT ALGAE BIOSCIENCES INCORPORATED:
AlgaeBio is an Arizona biotechnology company that researches, develops and manufactures ultra-pure products from micro and macro algae such as nutraceuticals, food additives and pharmaceuticals. With access to near-perfect algae growing conditions, exclusive aquaculture access to a pristine brine water supply, and advanced proprietary technology, AlgaeBio produces superior human and animal consumable products, as well as offering advanced algae-based products and technologies for distribution into the agribusiness, biofuel, and aquaculture markets. AlgaeBio owns and operates large-scale production facilities near Holbrook, Ariz., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Algae Biosciences Corporation. www.algaebio.com.