HAMILTON — Ravalli County leaders say Tonix Pharmaceuticals' decision to locate a vaccine manufacturing facility is part of a long-term effort to encourage the bioscience industry in the Bitterroot Valley.
A roundtable discussion at the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority office focused on the arrival of Tonix, but also decades of jobs and investment from public facilities like Rocky Mountain Labs, and privately-owned GlaxoSmithKline, which recently invested in a $100 million expansion.
Whether it's legacy research such as the diseases carried by ticks, to more recent challenges like COVID, the speakers all believed Tonix fits into that picture, providing important well-paying jobs for the valley tied to vaccine research and production.
"It's a very special place," noted RCEDA Chair Ryan Oster. "It's easy to recruit and hopefully we're going to create those jobs now that are going to answer the burning question that's all over right now, how we can afford to be able to live here?"
Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf agreed.
"I think it'll be a great opportunity on a lot of levels to bring new people here and to encourage people that live here to stay. And allow people that grow up here to either stay or come back."
The Associate Director of Rocky Mountain Labs, Dr. Marshall Bloom said Tonix is a welcome addition, especially with the focus on vaccines.
"And I think if there's a real miracle, I think vaccines are certainly one of the true miracles. They vanquished a host of infectious diseases that no longer exist. And I think the fact that we're we may have, where it looks like we're going to have, a vaccine R&D facility here in Hamilton, I think it's very, very exciting."
Hamilton, Ravalli County, and the RCEDA will continue to work on connecting the infrastructure to the Tonix site.