A life sciences company in Franklin is planning to expand, refinishing a historic downtown building and adding space for science-based startup businesses.
B2S Life Sciences is planning to invest another $600,000 in renovations to its Monroe Street building, including new windows, doors and a storefront, roof repairs and creating offices, a lobby, conference rooms and lab space for startup science-based companies, chief executive officer Aleks Davis said. The business is also planning a courtyard space along Monroe Street, replacing a parking lot.
The planned project would finish the historic building the company first planned to move into, but had to delay the work when structural issues were found with the building. Instead, the business has been operating out of about 3,000 square feet of space on the side of the building that was remodeled.
Now, the business has the financing in place to begin the work to the main part of the building at 97 E. Monroe St., Davis said. His hope is to see work to the roof, stone façade, windows and doors get started within the next month, he said.
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So far, B2S has invested about $500,000 into the building and spent $500,000 on equipment, Davis said.
Davis asked the Franklin Development Corp., which had loaned B2S Life Sciences $200,000 for construction work to the building, to defer payments on that loan for the next two years while the work is done on the interior of the building. The board approved the request 4-2, with members Steve Woods and Angela Coy voting no because they were concerned the decision would set a precedent for future requests.
The company received an incentive package from the city in 2015, including $250,000 in tax-increment financing dollars from the Franklin Redevelopment Commission to help renovate the then-vacant Jarve-Alexander building, buying the building from the city-funded Franklin Development Corp. for $75,000 and a $50,000 grant for façade work and the $200,000 loan from the organization.
Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett said B2S offers high-paying jobs that are unique to Franklin, and he wants to see that grow.
B2S gets Franklin started in the life sciences industry, and has the potential of bringing additional businesses to the city in that field, Barnett said. And investing in the building benefits downtown Franklin by raising property values, he said.
Since opening in July 2016, the business has significantly grown, Davis said.
B2S Life Sciences helps pharmaceutical companies better develop drugs by providing services, such as drug discovery support, biomarker testing and analysis and life cycle management, Davis said. Two recent developments are a cell culture lab, which will be sterile and used to grow and work with cells, and working on cancer diagnostics, including identifying cancer lines, Davis said.
The Franklin businesses started with three employees and now has 15, and the base pay is 24 percent higher than the average wage in Johnson County, he said. The company has also offered internships to six Franklin College students, he said.
That is mainly due to a significant increase in clients, from three to 57 in the last year, with customers across the world in India, Australia, China and Japan, he said. Sales have already surpassed expectations for 2017, Davis said.
Their goal is to continue growing and improving and adding to the client base, Davis said.
Once the work to the main part of the building is done, B2S Life Sciences can offer lab space to small and startup life sciences companies, helping expand that field south of Indianapolis, Davis said.
Initially, the work will focus on the first floor of the building, but the hope is to eventually work on the second floor, which could be used as a kitchen and break area, he said. The basement could also be finished in the future, he said.
But the first project that needs to be done is to reinforce the front of the building, where the steel support structure was at one time removed. Planned work, including new windows and a recessed entrance, can’t be done until that structural work is completed, Davis said.
A few months ago, Davis was unsure how the needed work would be done, but the company has since gotten a loan and is investing some of its revenues into the building work. That is a continued decision officials have had to make — invest in equipment that in some cases cost as much as a home, or invest in the building. But now that the lab has about 80 percent of the equipment it needs, more revenue can be invested into the building, he said.
Davis wants the community to know the business is invested in the community, and wants to continue to make improvements to the building and the downtown, he said.
About B2S Life Sciences:
What: A life sciences company that supports the development of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies worldwide through research and testing.
Where: 97 E. Monroe St., Franklin
Employees: The company currently employs 15 people, up from three last year.
Clients: 57 clients worldwide, up from three last year.
Investment: $500,000 into the building and $500,000 in equipment so far.
Up next: The company is planning to invest another $600,000 to finish the main part of the building.