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Advaxis ribbon-cutting brings out who's who of state, business officials

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Advaxis CEO Daniel O'Connor, Gov. Chris Christie and BioNJ's Debbie Hart cut the ribbon at the company's new facility in Princeton.
Advaxis CEO Daniel O'Connor, Gov. Chris Christie and BioNJ's Debbie Hart cut the ribbon at the company's new facility in Princeton. - ()

Gov. Chris Christie and BioNJ's Debbie Hart joined immunotherapy company Advaxis for the ribbon-cutting of its new facility in Princeton on Friday.

The facility, located in College Park, doubles the company's footprint in New Jersey. Advaxis, which has its headquarters in Princeton, will be able to manufacture immuno-oncology products used in cancer trials, as well as have the capability to manufacture commercial products in the future, according to a statement.

"This is a true New Jersey success story," Hart, CEO and president of the life sciences trade group, said. "Just three years ago, this company was running on fumes."

She and Advaxis CEO Daniel O'Connor, who is also on BioNJ's board, recalled the company's history. After bottoming out with $24 in the bank and being traded as a penny stock, Advaxis turned to O'Connor in 2013. He led the company, with the help of investors and a number of state incentive programs, to where it is today.

"This is the most fertile ground ... for biotech," O'Connor said.

Christie took the opportunity to highlight the state’s tax incentives — which have brought $7 billion in investment to the state, he said.

He congratulated Advaxis, saying he was glad to steal Pennsylvania ideas, referring to the biotech’s research work with University of Pennsylvania, and California money.

Christie, a Republican, also took the opportunity to take a jab at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy's state bank policy idea, warning it would fail and require a taxpayer bailout. 

State Sen. Tom Kean (R-Westfield) and Choose New Jersey's Michele Brown were also at the event.

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