Study: BioMarin to give big boost to San Rafael economy

As construction crews prepare 120,000 square feet of offices in San Rafael Corporate Center for the expansion of Novato-based BioMarin Pharmaceutical later this year, Marin Economic Forum has analyzed how much the arrival of more than 300 employees in the city will affect the greater business community. The figures are eye-popping.

BioMarin plans to have 345 research-and-development and administrative jobs in San Rafael, some relocated from the 300,000 square feet of facilities in Novato and some part of the company's growth at about 100 positions a year.

"This will help us grow and keep us in Marin," said spokesman Bob Purcell.

That influx into Marin County's largest city is projected to result in about 200 additional jobs in other San Rafael companies that do business with the maker of treatments for rare diseases, according to analysis by Robert Eyler, Ph.D., a Sonoma State University economist and interim head of the forum.

BioMarin is projected to spend $50.2 million on its San Rafael operations, which suggests $30.7 million of additional indirect and induced business activity, based on Dr. Eyler's figures using the Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) model used by governments worldwide. Indirect activity comes from researchers and office workers frequenting local restaurants, delis, grocery and other stores. Induced activity comes when employees hired by those support businesses to accommodate the added demand then make their own local purchases.

"Like dropping a rock into a pond, the BioMarin expansion to San Rafael has effects on many industries throughout Marin County based on new business revenues, jobs and tax revenues," Dr. Eyler wrote in the half-dozen-page report titled "The Importance of Commercial Real Estate Economic Impacts on Marin County, Calif."

Because of the economic activity, local and state governments would reap $4.3 million annually from new employment, sales, property, personal income and other taxes and fees.

The point of the study was to emphasize how local governments should consider the wide-ranging economic impact of the commercial real estate development and tenant-improvement projects before them.

The forum conducted similar analysis on Lucasfilm's proposed Grady Ranch digital movie studio, which was scuttled earlier this year amid opposition to the project from some neighboring residents. That study found the county lost 690 jobs, nearly $83 million in economic activity and $3.8 million in annual taxes and fees.***

Industry West Commerce Center off Todd Road in southwest Santa Rosa has brought in 55,000 square feet of leases in recent months, bringing the 275,000-square-foot industrial developments to 88 percent occupancy, according to developer Vince Rizzo.

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