NeoGenomics To Build $50 Million World Headquarters In SW Florida
NeoGenomics, described by one employee as “doctors for cancer doctors,” will build a 150,000-square-foot, $50 million-to-$60 million international headquarters in south Lee County.
The only international company that focuses exclusively on comprehensive cancer diagnostics, NeoGenomics started in about 1,200 square feet of space in 2006 in Gateway after relocating from Naples.
It has seen significant growth, encompassing about 90,000 square feet of space in five buildings clustered north of Daniels Parkway at 12701 Commonwealth Drive, off Westlinks Drive, just east of JetBlue Park.
The new site covers about 14 acres just west of Interstate 75 and about half a mile north of Alico Road along Three Oaks Parkway.
“We want to do something special for our employees,” said NeoGenomics CEO Doug VanOort, who has presided over the company’s growth from 100 to 1,500 employees across the nation and even around the world since he arrived a decade ago.
The company also has laboratories in Tampa; Houston, Texas; Aliso Viejo and Fresno, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Rolle, Switzerland and Singapore, with another in the planning stages for China.
The new headquarters will be the home base for administration and an expanded laboratory, and the other locations will remain in use.
“They have been working very hard in the facilities we have,” VanOort said. “This is going to give us more efficient use of space. It is a place we will all feel proud of.”
Projected to break ground by the end of the year and to open by the end of 2021, the new headquarters will have room for the company’s 300 existing Lee County-based employees and additional space for the 295 people expected to be hired in the next five years.
Those hires will help the company receive $374,000 in tax credit incentives from the Lee County government and $1.77 million from the state of Florida, plus more for construction costs from the state.
John Talmage, director of Lee County economic development, said NeoGenomics’s growth played into the economic incentives. The county has been working behind the scenes to insure a swift building permitting process, he said.
“Because they have a track record with us, and they have continued to grow here and internationally, they are developing programs with FGCU, they have been doing a lot of recruiting – that’s the kind of company that’s easy for us to work with, because they have been able to grow so quickly,” Talmage said.
The health care-oriented company also brings needed diversity to Lee County’s tourism-heavy workforce, Talmage said.
“It’s really a new industry for us,” he said. “It’s one of the largest cancer diagnostic companies in the world. To have that kind of intellectual knowledge in our workforce is unbelievable.”
VanOort estimated Florida would help fund $25 million to $30 million of the construction costs as part of the state’s investment capital tax credit program. After spending the first $25 million to build and after hiring the 100th new employee, NeoGenomics can seek annual tax credits up to five percent of the eligible costs for up to 20 years for the cost of the building, subject to the company’s ability to generate the necessary income.
The land is under contract and slated to close before the end of the month. Seagate Development Group, based in Gateway, will buy the land, build to suit for NeoGenomics and lease it for 20 years with lengthy options to renew.
The parcel is owned by Alan Freeman, whose family developed land all along Three Oaks Parkway, north and south of Alico Road. The asking price: about $5.9 million, $10 per square foot.
“They’re always strategic sellers,” said Gary Tasman, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, who is involved with the forthcoming transaction as the local part of a global real estate team. “They are strategic about selling to the right people who will help add value to the rest of their properties.
“This is a major, major impact to our market in terms of job creation and economic contribution to the area that our market wants. It’s an important transaction.”
Although no secret the company would be expanding, details of the location were kept “close to the vest” until Tuesday, when employees celebrated with a catered lunch under a tent outside the Gateway buildings followed by a company town hall meeting with VanOort.
Helen Edenfield, national director of operations excellence for NeoGenomics and the company’s third employee, has been working behind the scenes to scout potential locations and hire the architect and construction contractors. She said the company chose the land north of Alico Road over two other site candidates.
“For our visibility and our branding, we will be there right off I-75,” Edenfield said. “Whether it be in two years when we move in or 15 years from now, that’s not going to change.
“I think it’s a great location. It’s close to the airport. For the lab, we need it to be centric to the airport. It’s close to FGCU. We can continue our relationships with the university and grow that.”
The facility, slightly smaller than the 171,000-square-foot Hertz Arena, was originally planned for 90,000 square feet, but the company decided to build bigger than needed to avoid outgrowing space in the future.
“That’s one of the great things about this company,” Edenfield said. “We can pause and think about things. What did we need?”
Lab technicians do the grim work of diagnosing cancer at quiet cubicles before passing along their findings to on-site doctors for more in-depth analysis.
Dr. Mojdeh Naghashpour works remotely from the east coast of Florida but said she has considered returning to Fort Myers because of the new facility.
“We are the doctor’s doctor,” she said. “I’m so delighted to be a part of this company. This company has a responsibility to its shareholders, but at the same time, they give us the autonomy to make critical, medical decisions.”
Felix De La Cruz, the NeoGenomics site director, is among the many employees looking forward to having more work space. Although he was born in the Dominican Republic, he considers himself a homegrown employee, having graduated from North Fort Myers High School in 2002 and from FGCU with a degree in biotechnology.
“It’s going to be great for us,” he said. “Right now, we are almost bursting at the seams. We seem to set up a laboratory, expand, and then we’re ready for more space. We’re excited to get something new and fresh and something we can grow into.”
New NeoGenomics: A look at some of the contractors involved in the construction of a new world headquarters for the cancer diagnostics company. The project is slated to cost $50-to$60 million and open by the end of 2021.
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