Miles Guralnick didn’t make his business relocation decision lightly. Using no fewer than 30 parameters to evaluate his choices, the president of ALK Source Materials (ASM) – a subsidiary of Denmark’s mammoth ALK-Abello, had them narrowed to three potential relocation sites in 2005. Two were in Washington, near where ASM was already operating in Spokane, and one was in Post Falls, Idaho. By 2009, the Spokane facilities were gone and their northwest operations were combined into one brand new, larger facility in Post Falls, Idaho.
“In addition to having the highest score on most of the 30 parameters, Idaho convincingly represented to us that they were truly interested in helping our business to be successful in Idaho – that they would help us through the transition (by) providing quick access to important contacts, helping us to navigate the various permitting and regulatory requirements, providing prompt attention to our requests and needs, helping us to find solutions when needed,” said Guralnick.
ALK-Abello is the world’s leading producer of pharmaceuticals for allergy immunotherapy. ASM is not only its parent company’s main provider for that immunotherapy; it is the world’s largest supplier of allergen source materials. ASM cultivates farming sites to provide pollens, mites, insect venoms, and other products that are used by ALK researchers to produce vaccines and diagnostic tests.
ASM’s Post Falls facility has 81 workers and conducts non-farming operations. The Spokane connection was born of ASM’s origins, a laboratory called Biopol dating back to 1976; Biopol bought a farm in Plummer, Idaho in 1998. A later merger led to a name change in 2008, ALK-Abello Source Materials. ASM also has 21 workers at a Pennsylvania facility, where Guralnick currently resides.
Previously, the company’s non-farming operations in the northwest had been conducted in five leased buildings in the Spokane area.
“These facilities were maxed out and poorly suited to our operations. We took the decision to design/build a new facility and to consolidate the non-farming Washington operations into one, purpose-built facility. We knew we wanted to keep our location in the inland northwest,” said Guralnick, who also considered sites in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, Washington while contemplating his decision to relocate.
Guralnick credits Jobs Plus, the nonprofit Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation, with convincing him Idaho’s push to recruit ASM was more than a sales pitch. Calling Jobs Plus director Steve Griffits “North Idaho’s business ambassador,” Guralnick said it soon became clear that the business-friendly picture Griffits painted was not just talk. Guralnick painted his own picture of the business relocation experience:
“As we would ask questions, Steve would immediately introduce us to the individual who we needed to talk with. Not just an agency name, phone number, or website; but a direct and immediate introduction to the individual with the knowledge, experience, and authority to provide us with exactly the information we needed. No red tape. No complex governmental organizational structures to navigate.”
Business needs don’t end with relocation, but continue and even expand along with growth like ALK-Abello and ASM have experienced. So too goes the need for continued support. Guralnick affirmed that quick responsiveness has continued long after his decision to relocate. He compares the experience positively to other states, saying Idaho’s attitude is to partner with business, rather than throw up the obstacles he’s experienced elsewhere.
“North Idaho earnestly walks the talk,” he added.