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Express Scripts seeking $40M tax credit for new South Jersey plant

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Express Scripts Holdings Co. is seeking a $40 million tax credit for a new pharmaceutical plant in Burlington Township, over the border from the Willingboro facility run by its Medco Health Solutions subsidiary, company and state officials said today.

A spokesman for the St. Louis-based pharmacy benefits manager, which has cut around 900 jobs in New Jersey since last year, said the company is “seeking approvals to build a state-of-the-art pharmacy” in the township. Express Scripts has applied for a subsidy under the Grow New Jersey program, an incentive the state uses to help firms retain and create jobs while making new investments in their operations.

The company spokesman, Brian Henry, said the new facility is “part of what we continually do — we look for ways to grow responsibly and to be more efficient and deliver world-class service, and we feel that this investment would help us get there.” But he said it was premature to provide details such as the jobs impact or size of the facility, and he wouldn’t say whether it would result in the closure of the Willingboro plant.

“It’s the early stages, but I think if all of the stakeholders approve our proposal, we would anticipate that any currently interested employees that are there would have the opportunity to work at the new facility,” Henry said. He later added, “We’re evaluating a number of different potential sites and it’s an initial step in the process here, so we haven’t made any decisions about anything yet.”

Express Scripts, which acquired Franklin Lakes-based Medco in a controversial takeover last year, has caught the attention of top state officials over the hundreds of layoffs that followed the $29.1 billion merger. Those cuts included about 100 jobs at Willingboro plant that raised questions about the facility’s future.

Henry said the company still has more than 800 employees there, and some 2,700 in the state. And it’s hired about 120 employees since last year and has open positions here, he said.

Express Scripts reported earlier this year that its profits had surged after shedding charges associated with Medco.

Economic Development Authority spokeswoman Erin Gold confirmed the company had applied to the agency for Grow New Jersey assistance. Henry declined to say whether Express Scripts was considering other locations for its new facility, and a copy of its application to the EDA could not immediately be obtained.

Reporter Joshua Burd is @JoshBurdNJ on Twitter.

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