Was AstraZeneca worth the deal it got from the state?

By Amy Cherry/Allan Loudell 10:18am, March 20, 2013 - Updated 1:53pm, March 20, 2013
Have the massive cutbacks at AstraZeneca proven that a state can no longer hope to land a major company as a long-term bedrock that can provide substantial jobs for future generations?

That's the question posed to Delaware Economic Development Director Alan Levin, who argues the state more than got its investment back bringing the pharmaceutical giant to town.

"In the end, if you don't take the shot at it, and in this case, we won, we didn't win for the long-term like we would have hoped, a couple generations. But in the end, they're still here. This is still national headquarters for AZ," says Levin.

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Levin says their agreement said AstraZeneca had to hire 4,000 people and the company had more than 5,000 employees in 2005. He says the changing pharmaceutical industry has prevented them from keeping all those jobs in Delaware.

But former State Rep. Wayne Smith, who's now President and CEO of the Delaware Health Care Association says the Astrazeneca cuts should show the state that tax breaks and other financial incentives don't keep a company.

"I mean I hope Delaware does do some soul searching in terms of what the payoff was or was not with Astrazeneca. We spent $130 million on land to them - $60 million was up front cash, the rest of it was in DelDOT improvements, and I think we cannot say we made back $130 million in personal income tax," says Smith.

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But Tony Jewell, spokesman for AstraZeneca refutes Smith's claim, saying the pharmaceutical company has paid more than $257 million in tax since locating here. He adds that figure doesn't include the gross receipts tax or individual income taxes paid by employees.

AstraZeneca announced Monday it's cutting 1,200 jobs in Wilmignton, eliminating hundreds entirely and relocating the rest outside Delaware.

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