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Posted on Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

U-M expects to have 1,700 employees at ex-Pfizer site by end of 2012

By Nathan Bomey

The University of Michigan plans to have about 1,700 employees at the ex-Pfizer site in northern Ann Arbor by the end of 2012, according to projections released today.


David Canter, who led the Pfizer site in northern Ann Arbor when the global pharmaceutical company owned it, is executive director of the complex for the University of Michigan.

Nathan Bomey |

U-M, which bought the 174-acre former Pfizer property in 2009, had about 830 employees working at the 30-building campus at the end of September.

David Canter, executive director of the North Campus Research Complex, the new name U-M assigned the Pfizer site, offered a few updates about the status of the complex in a email newsletter.

Among the groups that have already moved to the site are health care researchers, technology transfer operations, business engagement activities and some Comprehensive Cancer Center employees.

The university expects to have about 1,000 employees at the site by the end of 2011, up from 466 a year earlier, according to the newsletter.

The employees expected to move to the Pfizer campus next are cardiovascular researchers, according to the newsletter. U-M said in May that it would move about 60 cardiovascular scientists to high-tech laboratories at the Pfizer site, forming a "a cardiovascular research cluster."

When it bought the ex-Pfizer site for $108 million, U-M announced it would staff the campus with 2,000 to 3,000 employees within 10 years.

So far, about 150 of the 830 workers at the site are new hires, U-M Health System CEO Ora Pescovitz said last month.

Meanwhile, a U-M startup biotech company called Lycera Corp. is moving this month to 14,000 square feet of leased space at one of the Pfizer labs.

That comes as the U-M Technology Transfer Office's new business incubator, called the Venture Accelerator, is filling up with early-stage startups led by U-M faculty.

Ken Nisbet, executive director of the Tech Transfer Office, said earlier this month that the 16,000-square-foot incubator has about 10 companies and expects to be at full capacity by early 2012 — more than a year ahead of schedule.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 5:17 a.m.

It's unclear to my why everyone is mad at the University? We should be mad at Pfizer for taking Warner Lambert stripping it of their patents and top talent then abandoning the scraps. Everyone should be boycotting any Pfizer medicines or products!

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

Great, Ms. Gavin, that's a nice webpage and thanks for the info! But, so far as I can tell from that in terms of new jobs created, it is also standing at the 'about 150' ( or precisely 148 from the link you provide) figure indicated in the article above! Your website cites that 1 in 6 jobs are new. And indeed-- with the new childcare facilities mentioned in your website, the food service facilities, and the need for new maintenance and service staff for all that new square footage--I'd imagine that there are some new NCRC -related jobs at UM! But, what I still cannot deduce from the projections and claims about people moving from one place to another within the UM community, is... *how many new jobs are being created here*?! I see all the exciting 'potential' being claimed, and I also see the claims that the UM has helped to retain companies that we have to guess might have relocated out of Michigan and instead will be leasing from the UM (and presumably the UM doesn't pay taxes on the 'leased portion' of the space) the nice office and lab-space that this site surely provides... But I don't see where specific projections are made for how many *new* jobs will be created. Does the UM even project that there will be a continued rate of 1 in every 6 people who move to this new space will be "new hires"? Will that number decrease, increase, what? I just can't tell from the info given, but maybe it's just me? I know these are difficult to project...I am merely taking some issue with the way the jobs-totals are being touted as somehow evidence of the replacement of the lost Pfizer jobs, and not part and parcel of the growth the UM was in process with anyway.

Kara Gavin

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

Want more facts and figures about what's going on at NCRC? Visit this page - <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Kara Gavin U-M Health System Public Relations

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

@Elaine F. Owsley makes the point that Pfizer up and left, leaving all those homes sitting empty, and taking their tax-payments to the city with them so what good were they? And admittedly, that is a very nice thing for this area about UM's presence--they are *not* going anywhere fast! And it is a great thing for Ann Arbor that UM employees so many people, that they are a great university and have a great health system and do so much to make Ann Arbor vital in a way that &quot;Howell&quot; for instance in @Elaine's example is not... Ann Arbor has pretty much always benefitted from the UM's presence--it's really been pretty integral to the town's character for forever, hasn't it?! It is merely unfortunate for Ann Arbor that they take land off the tax rolls and do not make payments in lieu of taxes in any way. I don't see why that should be such a taboo idea...we offer up income taxes as a way to get 'more' from the UM in terms of paying for city services and infrastructure, but there are surely good arguments against that. But somehow the idea that the UM do something more for Ann Arbor while they sit on their huge endowment and do little to officially 'help' pay for the infrastructure they obviously make use of, seems taboo. UM is tough to negotiate with, no doubt. But perhaps we need to think hard about having a Mayor in office who is beholden to the UM for his career?!


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

So according to Rob, UM employs people that buy things, eat things, own property and pay taxes on all of these joys in life. When it was owned by Pfizer, the people that Pfizer employed bought things, ate things, owned property and paid taxes on all of these joys in life. Difference is, Pfizer also paid taxes. See where I'm going with this Rob?

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

If &quot;many of these are new positions&quot;, @Rob, then why is the current situation that less than 20% of those who've currently moved in are?! What will be changing in terms of who will move in next? I'd love to see the details, but this reporting doesn't share it. Am I saying the UM is 'bad' for Ann Arbor? No, not at all. Am I hoping that their use of this site creates jobs beyond what the University would have created anyway? Yes, I am. Am I wondering whether the UM could perhaps be asked to work out some PILOT arrangement with the city of Ann Arbor, or elsewise contribute some more to the city given that they take so much property and business-space off the tax rolls?! Yes, I am...

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

and by the way, the term used in the piece was &quot;new hires&quot;, which doesn't even mean they're all &quot;new positions&quot;, because of course there is a difference in meaning there, just to say. How many &quot;new positions&quot; are being created by UM for this new space? How many *new programs* are being created? How many existing programs are being expanded? Those data points would *truly* speak to what effect this is having on the local economy.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

Did you see a line up of firms wanting to guy the Pfizer property? Uh no. After a long period of time of no interest and no pending deals, Pfizer approached UM who eventually agreed to buy the property and is maintaining, expanding, and preventing the decay of the huge property. There will be 1,700 people working there by the end of 2012. Do you think there was lab space for another 1,700 people at the hospital complex? No, many of these are new positions, and more space is created from their old space if they were a current UM transfer. These people might even live in A2. Gee, they might visit a local business, pay property taxes, eat out, buy a car, you get the idea. Maybe.

Mike K

Sun, Oct 16, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Something is better than nothing though.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

So according to Rob, UM employs people that buy things, eat things, own property and pay taxes on all of these joys in life. When it was owned by Pfizer, the people that Pfizer employed bought things, ate things, owned property and paid taxes on all of these joys in life. Difference is, Pfizer also paid taxes. See where I'm going with this?


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

Nearly 45,000 employees owe their jobs to UM. They pay taxes. They eat out. They Park. They own Homes. They pay property taxes. They buy groceries, pay utilities, attend concerts, athletic events, send their kids to schools, buy cars, and probably keep nearly every business in Ann Arbor going! Wake up. UM is bigger than the next biggest 24 employers in Wastenaw County COMBINED. The purchases these employees make are taxed, the sales from the businesses are taxed, property taxes are paid by both. Are you serious? Really? Are you getting an education somewhere?

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

Getting close to replacing the 2,000 Pfizer employees lost when that company left town. And, in a short length of time. Go Blue!!!

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

But they're *not*, if you read the article, you'd notice that only 150 of the employees are new hires! But, I guess is fine with readers mis-reading their pieces...

Somewhat Concerned

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

No question that we all would be better off if UM took their jobs, their purchases, and moved them somewhere else, like Scio Township, along with the meals and other purchases their employees make. Net, net, Ann Arbor would be much better off, more like Saginaw or Benton Harbor, where much less land is owned by freeloading employers.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Another article about UM's deep pockets and grand plans...but not a word on how they stiffed this city in millions of tax money time &amp; time again. These job creators are not fair partners to the city and the people of Ann Arbor... The deep pockets of UM exists only because &quot;we the people&quot; allow universities to be &quot;tax exempted&quot;...however their use of this privilege has been consistently abused by their 'land grab&quot; which somehow has gone unchallenged &amp; been diffused by rabid sport fans who think that's the real intent of universities. They don't pay taxes, Pfizer paid taxes. They don't pay taxes...and we lose police, firefighters and less public funds for city services, parks, and schools to list a few. They don't pay taxes...but have a 7.8 billion dollars endowment, pay outrageous money for real estate, won't pay for traffic services on home football games, demand city services, have sport stadiums with inappropriately high volumes....and our city is dying because they won't pay their fair share.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

If not for the University all those thousands of employees UM pays, who pay taxes, who buy products, and support this community would not be here. I am really sick of the whining about the University not doing it's share when it is the largest employer in the territory. Without it, Ann Arbor would be another Howell.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

Yeah, it's great to fill the empty buildings there. But there's no tax base. UM doesn't pay taxes. We need a balance in this town with the U of M. I certainly don't want the whole town to become the high and mighty U of M.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:47 a.m.

The employees pay taxes, buy those homes sitting empty, support local businesses. Try running this city without it.

hut hut

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

Time for an income tax for the infrastructure freeloaders

David Cahill

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

I'm glad to see this expansion. Even a few hundred new employees are good news. But the workers at the former Phizer site risk running afoul of the City's stupid new crosswalk ordinance, considering the large number of crosswalks on Plymouth Road....

Ron Granger

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

At least Pfizer paid taxes.

Lady Audrey

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

Seriously, Pfizer was holding the city and state hostage for drastically reduced taxes with the &quot;promise&quot; to remain in the state. We were screwed by corporate america.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

And they ran off and left the city with a huge complex of empty building, houses that can's sell and employees without jobs.

say it plain

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

I gotta say, this piece makes it seem like these are all new jobs, when most are not... Even with the indication in the article that less than 20% of these employees now working in the Pfizer site are *new hires*, the piece makes it unclear how many of even *these* staff are related to an expansion versus a continuation of the research and health-system projects UM is conducting anyway-- that is, how many employees are related to &quot;new projects&quot; the UM is conducting because they'd acquired the Pfizer site, and how many are old ones, even if expanded now that there is more space for it. Don't want to be a naysayer, I'm sure the UM aims to expand their programs and they are of course leasing the space to 'business incubation' and yes yes they want to get more into the &quot;Development&quot; scene now, to add to the &quot;Research&quot; winkwink... But it just feels like a little bit of a misrepresentation somehow to imply--however incompletely--that the U is wow! essentially *replacing* Pfizer in the local economy! (I suppose David Canter's presence truly adds to that impression lol, what great great idea for them to have him be their 'director' there ;-) ) It was a fantastic acquisition for UM to get this complex... Just sad for Ann Arbor that the property thusly came off the tax roles, and we'll see over time how much they add back, besides to their own endowment and the pockets of a few very smart people and a few very connected people ;-)

say it plain

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Absolutely not, @Elaine F. Owsley, I would not rather have decaying buildings there. I said it was a fantastic acquisition for UM, and it was. They got a HUGE bargain, and I hope it works out for will definitely work out well for the UM! For all that land and great recently-improved building, they paid maybe twice (maybe less than that) what they were about to pay for merely a parking structure. They got all the parking they were about to buy anyway, *plus* all the buildings, equipment, and so on! Sure, they have to pay to keep it all up, but wow, what a wonderful deal they got... I didn't mean to imply that they were simply given it...they did need to spend some tiny portion of their monies for it :-)

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.

UM didn't &quot;Get&quot; this complex, they paid for it. Would you rather have empty decaying buildings on that site?


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

everybody else pays for things themselves SO SHOULD the U