Renaissance RX, a New Orleans-based company that uses genetics to help ensure patients get the proper dosage of their medications, will undertake an $8 million expansion that will add 425 workers to the 80 it already has in the city, officials said Tuesday.
The company, which started in 2012 with five employees in the BioInnovation Center on Canal Street, will soon move into a new facility in the Central Business District as part of an expansion that includes $925,000 in grant money from the state.
Renaissance RX, which has more than 700 contract workers outside the state, also will use the state’s Quality Jobs and job training programs.
An announcement from the company and Louisiana Economic Development said the new jobs will pay an average of $54,100 per year, plus benefits. It said the expansion will create another 407 indirect jobs.
Most of the new jobs will be technical in nature, such as lab technicians, medication technologists and chemists, said Dr. Tarun Jolly, Renaissance RX’s founder and chief executive officer.
The company specializes in pharmacogenetic testing, which reveals how individual patients respond to specific medications based upon their genetic makeup.
Jolly said the idea for the company sprang from toxicology work he and his colleagues conducted at his pain treatment practice.
Jolly explained that traditionally, two patients of the same size and weight would be given the same dose of a medicine without regard to other factors, particularly their metabolism, which can vary widely.
Renaissance RX uses a single swab from inside a patient’s cheek to provide the genetic information needed to ensure the patient gets the right dosage of a medicine. The company contracts with clinicians to better guide them in their treatment of patients.
The genetic information applies to any drug metabolized by the liver, which is the case with most drugs.
Jolly said it’s hard to tell what share of the market Renaissance RX has because the companies involved are privately held, but he said he suspects the company is among the top three or four doing this kind of work.
“Really, right now this is just a really hot segment,” he said.
Renaissance RX’s new headquarters will be in a 30,000-square-foot building at 301 St. Charles Ave. Jolly said the company should move into it within six months and will be looking for opportunities to increase its lab space even more as the company grows.
In addition to its space in the BioInnovation Center, Renaissance RX now has offices on LaSalle Street and Poydras Street.
Jolly, who is a cousin of the state’s first lady, Supriya Jindal, said the opportunity to grow the business in New Orleans, where he has lived since he was 4 years old, is important to him. He said the company’s expansion should help build up ancillary businesses that support it.
Many of Renaissance RX’s executives are people who had left the city but were lured back, Jolly said.
“Nothing excites me more than the ability to grow our community around us,” he said.
Jolly said the company’s out-of-state employees are in sales and support, while most of the local employees are in technical and administrative jobs. He said more than 60 employees hold a doctor of pharmacy degree.
The state lauded the deal in its announcement.
“New Orleans is becoming known as the greatest comeback city of the 21st century in America,” LED Secretary Stephen Moret said in the news release. “The city is experiencing rapid growth in its high-tech sector, health care, entrepreneurship and trade-related commerce.”
The company’s expansion plan “offers the promise of hundreds more professional jobs in the biomedical sector of New Orleans,” he said.
LED said discussions between the state and the company began in March, and that the incentive package offered to the company was a competitive one. The $925,000 performance-based grant will be paid in five annual installments of $185,000 each, and Renaissance RX is expected to use the state’s job-training and Quality Jobs Program.
The Quality Jobs Program provides a 5 percent cash rebate of annual gross payroll for new jobs paying at least $14.50 per hour and 6 percent for jobs paying at least $19.10 per hour, each for up to 10 years.
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