Tucson firm gets county incentives to hire well-paid workers

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z Tucson firm gets county incentives to hire well-paid workersBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Roughly a year into its lease with Pima County, a biotech startup needs more space as it continues to grow.

Accelerate Diagnostics, which moved to Tucson last year from Denver, has recently negotiated to use an additional 4,500 square feet at the county-owned Herbert K. Abrams Public Health Center.

The company will reimburse the county for the cost of improving the space, up to a maximum amount of $400,000 plus interest.

The additional space will allow Accelerate Diagnostics to hire another 26 employees in the next 12 months. The company now has 50 Tucson employees, with an average salary of more than $100,000.

The company will reimburse the county for improvements in monthly installments over the remainder of its three-year lease.

Accelerate is developing a system to rapidly diagnose and identify drug-resistant pathogens and hospital-acquired infections.

Steve Reichling, Accelerate’s chief financial officer, said the company’s plan changed for the better about six months after the county lease was signed.

The company has found success in recruiting local talent as well as employees from across the nation,

Reichling said. It also raised $20 million earlier this year by offering existing shareholders rights to buy new shares of its publicly traded stock.

As part of its deal last year to secure space in the county’s Health Department building, Accelerate agreed to hire at least 15 workers making more than $65,000 in the first year of its contract. The deal calls for the company to hire more employees every year, ultimately reaching 65 employees by 2016.

The company, which has a contract with the Department of Defense, is far ahead of its agreement with the county.

“We’re pleased with the quality of employees we’ve been able to recruit thus far,” Reichling said. “We were given three years to achieve four milestones, and we’ve already achieved three of those four in just one year.”

He thanked the county Board of Supervisors for approving the contract.

“The county has been a great partner to us, first in building a great initial facility and now in supporting our immediate growth needs. To expand at our current location will allow us to grow more quickly,” Reichling said.

Supervisor Ray Carroll,  who spent several years as a leasing agent before being elected to office, said it is always good news when a tenant needs more space.

“They have really exceeded our expectations,” Carroll said.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said it’s a win for taxpayers as well, as the unused space inside the health building will now have a paying tenant.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @ JoeFerguson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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