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Amgen, Seattle's Largest Biotech Employer, Is Leaving Town

Amgen is moving out, and Expedia is moving into Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Chas Redmond (CC-BY-NC-ND)
The double helix bridge over the railroad tracks along Elliott Avenue at the Seattle Amgen facility.

California-based biotech firm Amgen announced on Tuesday that it would close its Seattle and Bothell campuses by 2015, resulting in the loss of 660 jobs locally. The closure is part of a company-wide layoff of an estimated 2,400 to 2,900.

Biotech reporter Luke Timmerman said the firm will move some workers to California and Massachusetts locations in an effort to corral research spending.

“They, like a lot of big biotech companies, spend a lot of money on research and development and haven’t had a whole lot to show for it in recent years,” Timmerman said, speaking to KUOW’s Ross Reynolds on The Record. “There’s not as much in the pipeline that investors like these days, and this is what the company sees it needs to do to maintain its profits.”

Timmerman said it is unlikely laid-off employees will be absorbed into the Seattle workforce, because there aren’t many open jobs in biotech.

He said Amgen shuttering is indicative of the industry’s realignment to places such as San Francisco and Boston.

“This is part of a larger trend,” he said. “There’s been a consolidation of biotech talent and investment in those two East Coast/West Coast hubs.”

Though Seattle has not yet reached what Timmerman said was the critical mass for biotechnology, the city supports small companies and bigger players such as the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“That is the bedrock for any biotech industry. So as long as you have that you have the potential to develop new drugs and diagnostics that you can build an industry around,” he said.

Produced for the Web by Kara McDermott.

Year started with KUOW: 2006