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The publicly-traded synthetic DNA company will set up shop in Parkway Woods Business Park.

COURTESY PHOTO: TWIST BIOSCIENCE - Two Twist Bioscience employees hold up a sillicon chip the company uses for DNA synthesizing.

Twist Bioscience, a rapidly-growing synthetic DNA company that's moving into Wilsonville, could create as many as 400 jobs and may be the first recipient of the Wilsonville government's tax abatement program for businesses that invest heavily in town.

Twist, a San Francisco-based and publicly-traded company that has seen its stock price rise considerably this year, has signed a lease to operate a manufacturing site out of a 110,000-square-foot facility in Parkway Woods Business Park, formerly known as the Xerox campus. It is slated to open in 2022.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which the Portland Business Journal first reported on, the company's lease is about $2.1 million annually over a 12-year span.

Angela Bitting, Twist's senior vice president of corporate affairs, said the company makes synthetic DNA for a variety of uses including therapeutics, diagnostics, agriculture, data storage and the production of chemicals like fragrances and flavors.

She said proximity to the Portland market and its employee pool was attractive to the company and that the move will help facilitate Twist's growth. More specifically, she said it could help Twist produce synthetic DNA faster and incentivize companies to work with them rather than do so themselves.

"We have customers who make their own DNA because they need it very quickly. Currently it would be faster to make their own as opposed to buying it from Twist. We believe we'll be able to serve those customers through this new facility," she said.

She described the Wilsonville facility as a "factory of the future."

"We are really excited about it. We believe we will be able to create the factory of the future and serve customers we can't currently serve today," Bitting said. "It means we'll be making new products and bringing them to our customers more quickly. We expect it to be a very high-tech, cutting-edge facility to facilitate our future growth."

According to the Wilsonville government, Twist is also planning to apply for the city's Wilsonville Investment Now (WIN) program, which provides tax incentives to businesses that bring high-paying jobs and capital investment to town.

Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Jordan Vance also said the WIN program played a role in Twist's decision to invest in Wilsonville.

"According to what we were told from our contact, it was a factor. When they looked at projected costs from different locations in the Pacific Northwest, the rebate is significant given the amount they were going to invest in Wilsonville," he said. "(It) helps sweeten the financial picture for choosing Wilsonville."

Vance added that preliminary numbers indicate Twist would qualify for the WIN program, but that hasn't yet been determined. He also said taxing districts within that abatement program's purview, such as Clackamas County, will need to be consulted before the abatement is approved — and the approval process will take about four months.

Vance felt that Twist Bioscience moving to Wilsonville could be a harbinger of a life science cluster taking shape in the Portland metro area the city could try to facilitate. The Portland Business Journal article noted that Portland was ranked number nine in the country in terms of emerging life science clusters, according to real estate company CBRE.

Vance said Twist's investment was exciting news and that the company "is going to make a considerable investment in the community of Wilsonville and have an economic impact in the region as well."


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