Pharma Cluster to Produce Regional Economic Development and Revitalization



~ While AMPAC Fine Chemicals, alone, is creating excellent jobs in the Gateway Region, the entire Pharma Cluster combined is bringing hundreds of good paying jobs to the area. ~ 

By: Logan Barry

While AMPAC Fine Chemicals, alone, is creating excellent jobs in the Gateway Region, the entire Pharma Cluster combined is bringing hundreds of good paying jobs to the area. In addition to AMPAC Fine Chemicals — or AFC — Phlow Corporation, Civica Rx and the Medicines for All Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering are working together to create a pharmaceutical development and manufacturing base in Virginia’s Gateway Region


“Collectively we were bringing in the people, the tax base, and then as these talks continued and the process evolved, we went to the state and got the support from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Governor’s Office to continue getting help with the recruitment and expansion process,” notes Elso DiFranco, Executive Director of AFC’s Petersburg, Virginia facility. 

Civica Rx has elected to construct their facility across the street, adjacent to AFC, and are the fourth player in this cluster. The group is playing a vital role in supporting a federal contract awarded to Phlow Corporation, a Richmond-based essential medicines impact company, by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA. 

BARDA is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office responsible for the procurement and development of medical countermeasures, principally against bioterrorism, but also viral pandemics and emerging diseases, such as COVID-19 and its variants.  

[Click Here To Read The Second Article In The VGR Pharma Campaign Blog Series, Titled: Reinventing Chemistry — When R&D Meets Advanced Manufacturing”] 

“That’s when VEDP and the Commonwealth of Virginia came into play, with helping the recruitment process, providing incentives and grants to help convince Civica to build their fill-and-finish facility next door to where the APIs are being manufactured,” he highlighted, pointing to how unique of a situation it is to have a cluster like this, since it will be made up of different companies but with all of the pieces going to the same location. 


DiFranco believes that having this Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing cluster formed out of separate companies has its advantage, because it allows each company to focus on its strengths and core competencies. For AFC, this means API development 

“Again, we’ll all be on the same block in the same area. There will be some shared services and technologies and, as a result, the transfer process will be much smoother with all of us being in the same location. Aside from the core competencies, the benefit of proximity is huge,” DiFranco says.  

“Some of the major pharmaceutical companies may have both the API manufacturing and the drug product facilities on the same site, but as far as contract manufacturing goes, having all the different companies here in one centralized location — the research and technology development, the API manufacturer, and the fill-and-finish site — is a very unique model!” 


About VGR’s Advanced Pharma Campaign: 

Virginia’s Gateway Region is well on its way to becoming a transformational Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing cluster. Living in a post-COVID-19 world has shown the importance of drugs being made here in the U.S. has never been more relevant. Thanks to a unique public–private partnership between industry, academia and government, advanced manufacturing of essential pharmaceutical ingredients in the region will help ensure reliable access to affordable and quality medicines that will benefit for years to come. To learn more, visit VGR’s campaign landing page, at: 


About AFC:

AMPAC Fine Chemicals — an SK pharmteco company — is a U.S.-based, custom manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients, known as APIs, and registered intermediates. AFC solves problems through technology and innovation to reliably deliver quality products that save and improve lives.

About Elso DiFranco:

Mr. DiFranco has a PhD in Chemistry and over 25 years of experience in the pharma industry. He is an Executive Director and General Manager at AMPAC Fine Chemicals Virginia, with responsibility for operations at the site.

VGR — Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing


This concludes “Part Three” of a four-part story about AMPAC Fine Chemicals and the role the company has in the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster currently being developed in the City of Petersburg, Va. Stay tuned for “Part Four” of the AFC section of VGR’s Advanced Pharma Blog series, coming soon on