July 9, 2014

Novartis to build $35M data center at Alcon campus

The project, to be completed by the fall of 2015, was included in an amended tax abatement agreement approved by the Fort Worth City Council in January.

Novartis, which owns Alcon Laboratories, will begin construction soon on a $35 million global data center at Alcon’s campus in south Fort Worth that will serve the Swiss pharmaceutical giant’s operations in North America and South America.

The project is the latest investment in Fort Worth since Novartis acquired Alcon, a producer of eye-care surgical products and pharmaceuticals, in 2011. Fort Worth was chosen as the site for the data center last year after Novartis conducted a study to compare potential locations, said Elizabeth Harness Murphy, an Alcon spokeswoman.

“Novartis is pleased to have the city of Fort Worth become one of its two primary global data centers, dedicated to serve its operations in the Americas,” she said in a statement. “This move further reinforces Novartis’s commitment to the community where Alcon is headquartered.”

Murphy said the 10,000-square-foot data center will be built near Alta Mesa Boulevard at Alcon’s campus, which is located on the east side of Interstate 35W and south of Interstate 20. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2015, she said.

Novartis also operates a data center in Basel, Switzerland, which serves its operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to Alcon, Novartis has 58 locations in the United States, including its generics business Sandoz, the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Novartis administrative offices.

Murphy offered few details about the facility, saying it will be “industry-leading,” and requiring “highly specialized personnel for design and construction.”

Murphy said Alcon, which has expanded employment in Fort Worth since it was acquired by Novartis, would not be adding new jobs for the data center at this point. Alcon has about 4,500 employees in Fort Worth.

In January, the Fort Worth City Council amended a tax abatement agreement it approved for Alcon in 2011 that called for the establishment of a reinvestment zone for the campus that would grant an 80 percent abatement on the incremental real and personal property taxes for 10 years.

At that time, Alcon said it was only adding a Finance Service Center for the company’s North American operations. Hundreds of employees were moved in Fort Worth after the sale to Novartis as its Ciba Vision and Novartis Opthalmic operations were integrated into Alcon.

Alcon was expected to invest at least $11 million in the expansion, with $3 million on new facilities and the remainder in business personal property by Dec. 31, 2013. The amendment added the new global data center, which city records show will be a minimum investment of $30 million in real property and $4.7 million in business personal property.

Because the first phase of the abatement was to be completed by Dec. 31, 2013, the city will conduct its first audit of the tax abatement this year and award any payment under the agreement in 2015.

In May, Alcon Labs laid off about 200 employees who handled general and administrative functions as part of a company-wide cost-cutting measure to reduce its workforce by about 2 percent. Alcon employs more than 25,000 workers in 75 countries.

In April, Novartis named Jeff George, 40, an executive in its Sandoz generic drugs division, as president of Alcon Labs to succeed Kevin Buehler, who is retiring.

In April 2013, Novartis closed its Institutes for BioMedical Research group at the Alcon campus, moving that operation to Cambridge, Mass. About 120 employees were impacted in that move.

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