AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Two Amarillo business leaders will co-chair a task force to redirect pharmaceutical manufacturing from other countries back to the U.S., and more specifically, Amarillo.
The Task Force for America First Pharmaceutical Relocation Plan will include co-chairs, retired pharmacist and founder of Maxor National Pharmacy Services, Jerry Hodge, and Alex Fairly, CEO of the Fairly Group and the newly-founded FairosRX.
They hope to bring a substantial amount of pharmaceutical manufacturing from foreign countries, including China, to our area.
“The climate is such right now that there’s gonna be some tax incentives, there’s gonna be some things coming out of DC that will make this happen,” Hodge said. “We just gotta make it happen in Amarillo.”
Fairly stressed the importance of quickly addressing this national security issue.
“It’s imperative we find ways to reduce the U.S. dependence on China for APIs and drugs,” said Fairly. “More than 70% of the world’s drug ingredients are made in facilities outside the U.S. Our goal is to revitalize pharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States, and in turn, help revitalize some of the communities hit hard during this worldwide pandemic.”
Fairly and Hodge hope to establish Amarillo as the national industry leader, which will help to create jobs.
Hodge said they will collaborate with West Texas A&M University, Amarillo College, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), and the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine to get it done.
“They’re working together. Isn’t that wonderful?” Hodge asked. “I was worried about workforce training. Amarillo College has stepped up, we’ll do it…So, we got the community support. We should be able to land some major pharmaceutical manufacturing here.”
According to Hodge, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is on board and he hopes the City of Amarillo and Mayor Ginger Nelson will join, too. Hodge noted Amarillo City Councilman Howard Smith was in attendance when they made their announcement.
“AEDC’s got some property right off the interstate. We got everything we need. It’s our job now to sell it and make it work, and neither Alex nor I are bashful about doing that,” said Hodge.
The Dean of the School of Pharmacy at the TTUHSC, Quentin Smith, said making this initiative a reality would be a dream come true.
“We’ve dreamed of this for 30 years because it’s an excellent job, a tremendous need for the nation, especially in times of critical changeover—where something happens like COVID, that threatens our nation. We can provide the drugs right here,” Smith said.
Smith also said the collaboration could help universities like TTUHSC to keep students after they graduate, contributing to the local workforce.
Smith said, “This is also a tremendous opportunity for our people we’ve trained here, to come here that they can have very good jobs and they can have great success from this, and I think that is one of the best things of this whole project.”
TTU and WTAMU sent statements of support for the task force’s initiative.
Statement from Texas Tech University System Leadership:
“The collaborative concept put forth by Jerry Hodge and members of the Amarillo community is another example of bold and solutions-based thinking by our neighbors and partners in the Panhandle to solve critical issues in pharmaceuticals manufacturing and availability. “Our universities in the Texas Tech University System, along with the people of West Texas, have been pioneers of industry-transforming solutions for generations, and we are proud to have nationally recognized programs in pharmacy, medicine and veterinary medicine in Amarillo. “We can see many benefits of such a development and welcome the impact it could bring through strengthened academic partnerships, enhanced research, manufacturing innovation, and increased economic and workforce activity for our communities.”TTU System Leadership
“The efforts of Jerry Hodge, Alex Fairly, and members of the Task Force for America First Pharmaceutical Relocation Plan is an important economic benefit for Amarillo and Canyon, as well as the Panhandle of Texas, the State, and the nation.WTAMU President Dr. Walter Wendler
Hodge said Republican Candidate for Texas’s 13th U.S. Congressional District, Dr. Ronny Jackson, originally approached him with the idea for the task force.
“When I first was approached by Ronny Jackson to do this, I thought we may have a 10-20% chance. I think it’s 60-70, 75% now. We’ve got too much support,” said Hodge.
Local legislators, including State Reps. Four Price and John Smithee, as well as State Sen. Kel Seliger, have given their support to the task force’s efforts as well.
Hodge said they are early in the process of bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing to Amarillo, but he has spoken with two companies. He also said the majority of funding would come from those companies looking to relocate, although there will likely be some federal funding and perhaps from the AEDC for expenses such as utilities.
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