ADVERTISEMENT

Albany Molecular Research Inc., which is opening a drug discovery facility on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus boosted by a $50 million state investment, announced Wednesday that it is closing a drug research center in suburban Syracuse that employs 45 people.

The positions now based at the Syracuse Research Center in Cicero will be moved to several AMRI sites around the world, and the shifting of jobs could mean AMRI will bring an additional 10 to 15 workers to Buffalo, according to an official familiar with the company’s plans.

AMRI’s move to the Medical Campus remains delayed, but the company is expected this month to place 25 workers in temporary office and lab space here. In future years, AMRI and its partners could move as many as 300 workers into a permanent home now under construction on the campus.

AMRI revealed its plans to close the Syracuse drug research center in a layoff notice filed Tuesday with the state Labor Department.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that the move, effective June 30, is a business decision that consolidates resources and reduces costs, though AMRI expects to take one-time charges of up to $6.5 million related to the closing.

“While this announcement is unrelated to our Buffalo activities, we remain focused on growth and on our strategy to continue to expand services, technologies, expertise and geographic options that best meet our customers’ budgetary and value needs,” William S. Marth, AMRI’s president and CEO, said in a written response to questions.

AMRI came to the attention of most Western New Yorkers in December 2012, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state’s plans to build a $50 million, state-of-the-art drug discovery center on the Medical Campus where the Albany-based company and project partners would employ 250.

Finding suitable space on the Medical Campus for the project took much longer than expected. In the end, AMRI and state officials decided to temporarily move into existing space in the Jacobs Institute while waiting for permanent space in the Conventus building to be completed.

The private partners are investing $200 million in the project, while the state is paying $10 million toward the construction costs and $40 million for cutting-edge lab equipment.

AMRI executives in late 2012 assured Syracuse officials that the opening of the Buffalo drug development facility would not lead to any loss of jobs at the Central New York facility, which opened in 2002.

AMRI officials said in the statement that some functions and employees from the Syracuse-area facility will be transferred to company sites in Albany; Cedarburg, Wis., where AMRI last month announced plans to buy Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals in a $41 million transaction; Holywell, United Kingdom; and Hyderabad, India.

The company expects to firm up those transfer plans by the end of the month. While the company’s statement doesn’t mention Buffalo, the source familiar with AMRI’s plans told The Buffalo News that this area could see up to 15 additional workers following the closing of the Syracuse site.

Asked whether the governor has concerns that a company moving into a state-funded research center in Buffalo is closing a research center outside Syracuse, his communications office declined to comment.

The state has a commitment that AMRI and its partners will hire 250 people to staff the drug discovery center in Buffalo, but employment there could soon surpass 300, the source said Wednesday.

The short-term space was expected to open by early February, but negotiations among officials from AMRI; SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which is coordinating the project; the University at Buffalo, which owns the Jacobs Institute space; and the institute over the details of the lease took longer than anticipated.

AMRI today has about 1,300 employees companywide, including about 650 in New York State. The company had net income of $12.7 million in 2013 on revenues of $246.6 million. That represents an increase of 9 percent over its revenues for 2012, when the company reported a net loss of $3.8 million.

email: swatson@buffnews.com