The city of Auburn announced on Tuesday that SiO2 Materials Science, a firm that plays a critical role in the vaccination effort against Covid-19, plans a $123 million expansion that will inject a major revenue stream into the coffers of Auburn City Schools. 

"The partnership with the city of Auburn has been an important component of SiO2's ability to quickly deploy our innovative technology when it is needed most," said Ken Kelly, chief technology officer at SiO2, in a news release. "This expansion will provide us with the capacity we need to fulfill the growing demand of our customers."

SiO2 manufactures patented vials made of a microscopic, pure glass coating inside a plastic container that are used to help distribute Covid-19 vaccines throughout the world.

"What's happening here is they are an exclusive provider to Moderna," said Economic Development Director Phillip Dunlap at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. "This facility will give them the additional ability to do a new product that will go all over the world — pre-packaged injectors so you simply take it out of a kit and give a shot to an individual."

The investment will expand the company's facility at 2425 Innovation Drive to 185,000 square feet and create about 40 new jobs over the next two years. This investment follows on the heels of a $163 million expansion in July 2020.

"We're very fortunate to have this investment," said Dunlap. "Typically, this kind of investment would be on the Princeton corridor in the Northeast. That's where most of the pharma industry is located in the U.S. This is a great win for Auburn."

The City Council approved a number of items on the agenda pertaining to SiO2, including a resolution that will abate non-educational ad valorem taxes and sales and use taxes for 10 years. In total, about $4.5 million in various city taxes — general sales tax, manufacturing sales tax and property tax — will be abated. An additional $5.2 million will be abated in State of Alabama and Lee County taxes. 

"SiO2 is a great success story of what is possible when private industry, a major university, the local community and the state all work together. The city of Auburn is one of the places across the country where that can happen," said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders in a news release. "We are proud to have SiO2 in Auburn. I can say with confidence that we will see the powerful economic impact of such an innovative organization for our community in the years to come."

The latest expansion will generate significant revenue for the city, including nearly $4 million in ad valorem taxes over a decade.  

The Council also approved an extension to a previous tax abatement for SiO2 for its $163 million expansion in July of 2020, which included a 70,000 square foot injection molding facility expansion. 

"The big winner is our public school system on ad valorem taxes," said Dunlap. "There will be better than $1.3 million in educational ad valorem taxes generated off just these two investments, and that is huge. And that's just annual, and multiply that by 10 and that's a huge number."

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