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Merck plans $1 billion expansion in Rockingham

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The pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. Inc. plans to invest up to $1 billion in stages over the next three years to expand its pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Rockingham County.

The Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company will add 120,000 square feet to its existing 1.1 million-square-foot operation in Elkton, to increase production of its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

The expansion is expected to create 100 additional jobs at the plant, which currently employs 900 people.

“This record investment in Rockingham County is a symbol of Merck’s strong commitment to the Shenandoah Valley and will support further economic growth in the region,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in statement.

In connection with the expansion, Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University will collaborate on programs training biotechnology engineering and computer science workers to address workforce needs of Merck and other life-science industries in the Valley. 

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Rockingham County, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project for Virginia.

Subject to approval by the General Assembly, Merck will be eligible to receive a MEI performance grant of up to $7.5 million for storm water and infrastructure upgrades to support the expansion.

In addition, Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University are eligible to receive up to $2.5 million for the development of custom workforce solutions.

Also, Dominion Energy will provide support to enable the expansion, including substantial infrastructure upgrades.

Merck is also eligible to receive Sales and Use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment, as well as a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.

Merck, which has 69,000 employees, has operated its Elkton manufacturing plant in Rockingham County for more than 75 years.





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