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Purinepharma to add jobs in Massena after getting North Country Alliance loan

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MASSENA — Thanks in part to a $225,000 loan from the North Country Alliance, a Massena company plans to expand production and add dozens of jobs over the next three years.

The loan, announced in a news release this week, will be combined with a $250,000 loan from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and $1,323,000 in private financing to purchase equipment that will allow New Jersey-based Purinepharma LLC to begin manufacturing medicines and nutritional supplements.

Production at the plant began in November, when a dozen hourly employees were hired, joining the five full-time employees already working in Massena, according to Purinepharma operations manager Venkat Kakani.

He said production stopped over the holidays, but has resumed. Once the funding package is finalized, he said, all employees will be full time.

“The low-interest loans from the River Valley Redevelopment Agency and North Country Alliance supplement the company’s bank loan that will help Purinepharma accelerate this process,” Mr. Kakani said. “Within three years, Purinepharma expects to produce over 20 million bottles of products in the plant, which will create substantial employment in the community.”

According to the company’s agreement with the River Valley Redevelopment Agency, the company is required to retain two full-time employees, while creating 15 additional full-time jobs over the next three years.

Mr. Kakani said he expects to far surpass that expectation.

“I don’t think we will wait three years,” he said. “In three years we should have between 60 and 70 employees.”

In addition to the availability of low-cost power through the Massena Electric Department, Massena’s location also helped to make it the perfect fit for Purinepharma, Mr. Kakani said.

“The strategically located manufacturing plant in close proximity to the St. Lawrence Seaway will allow the company to serve these markets very effectively,” he said.

Company executives said the decision to locate their manufacturing plant in Massena was also made easier with the availability of “local talent” and the ability to complete the necessary renovations to begin production at a reasonable cost.

The plant is situated in a building that formerly housed an Alcoa laboratory.

“The citizens of the county and agencies like the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, River Valley Redevelopment Agency and North Country Alliance have been very much welcoming of Purinepharma,” Mr. Kakani said. “We are very glad to be here.”

Purinepharma will make generic, over-the-counter nasal and throat sprays and nutritional supplements that will be sold under store brand names, as well as its own Medibest and NuMed product lines. The company plans to expand production to include analgesics and cough and cold medicines.

The company is planning to export its products to international markets including Canada, Nigeria, Russia and Ukraine.

Johnson Newspapers writer Amanda Purcell contributed to this report.

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