Newport City | Stenger Introduces CEOs Of New Companies
By ROBIN SMITH, Staff Writer | Orleans County Record
Friday, April 12, 2013
NEWPORT CITY -- Developers Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros on Thursday introduced the two men whose companies will bring an estimated 640 new jobs to Newport City as part of the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative.
Stenger introduced Dr. Ike Lee, the president and chief executive officer of AnC Bio Vermont, the bio-tech research and manufacturing company that will create 500 jobs in a new research tower next to the former Bogner plant above Lake Memphremagog. Lee is president of the Newport company's parent company, AnC Bio of South Korea.
Stenger also presented Todd Bachelder, CEO of Menck Windows, who is preparing to retrofit the Bogner plant into a window manufacturing facility employing 140 people in full-time jobs.
Bachelder comes to Newport City from a Maine windows manufacturer and is expected to move to the area soon.
A team of nine scientists, engineers and technicians from the AnC Bio Vermont parent company in South Korea are in Newport City this week to complete the design of the AnC Bio Vermont five-story research tower, Stenger said. "This is a real crunch week," he said.
The team, who gathered at the Bogner plant for photographs with Lee, are working with local consultants to prepare the final design that will be presented to the city for permits in six weeks, Stenger said.
AnC Bio Vermont is on target to break ground this fall, he said.
Lee has expertise in start-up of bio-tech companies in the U.S., Belgium and South Korea. He is working with University of Vermont and other research universities in Quebec and New England to collaborate on research to be done in the clean rooms of AnC Bio Vermont which would lead to the development and use of new biotechnology.
"We're extremely excited by his leadership," Stenger said.
Lee called the bio-tech field of stem cell research and development fast moving and exciting. It requires a location like Newport City, with high-speed Internet and the interstate system that connects it to other bio-tech hubs and universities.
"The most important thing is support of local communities and the state," he said, thanking the city of Newport.
He credited former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and current Gov. Peter Shumlin with providing that support.
Menck will take over the western part of the Bogner plant, needing 50,000 square feet of room for future expansion.
The plant will be redesigned inside this summer with plans to begin producing windows by the first quarter of 2014.
"I look forward to the months ahead when we will be retrofitting and equipping our facility, hiring skilled workers and beginning production," Bachelder said.
Bachelder joined Menck, a partner with Stenger's group and Menck Fenster of Hamburg, Germany, in early March.
"Both of these companies are going to be innovative leaders in their fields," Stenger said.
The two developments are made possible by the EB-5 foreign investor program. Stenger is raising millions to fund these and other developments from foreign investors who will receive a green card in exchange for a minimum $500,000 investment.
AnC Bio Vermont has more than half of the $90 million needed to build the research tower, Stenger said. It will be "the finest bio-facility of its kind in the world," he said.
Once built, Lee said that it will take several years before the facility can be fully utilized because it will require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
Employees will be a mix of local people and highly trained and educated research scientists.
Lee was asked if his company will be able to recruit those scientists to live in rural Vermont.
Many scientists want to live in a rural setting, but there is no opportunity, until now, Lee said.
"We are already receiving resumes from around the county," said Bill Kelly, counsel for AnC Bio Vermont and the other NEK Initiative projects.
"This is a magnificent community. We need to remember that," Stenger said.
Plus it is just 90 minutes from Newport City to Montreal, Canada's bio-tech hub, and three and a half hours to Boston, the U.S. bio-tech hub.
"We are going to change in a very positive way the whole working vision of this community."
The two companies, with a diversity of jobs across two industries, "are two marvelous examples of great ideas that were it not for capital would not have the opportunity to blossom," he said.
Menck will be fully funded from EB-5 investments by this fall, Stenger said.
The highly efficient window manufacturer is a good fit in Newport City, Bachelder said, using the Vermont workforce with a tradition of working with wood and taking advantage of the NEK foreign trade zone centered now in Orleans County.
They credited local officials and Northeastern Vermont Development Association for seeking the foreign trade zone.