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Crain's Corner

Big Pharma Biz May Be Moving to Boston

According to the real estate rumor mill, pharma giant Baxter International may be moving out of Illinois. What does this mean for the state and its workforce? Crain's Chicago Business health care reporter Kristen Schorsch joins us with the latest.

Speculation about the future of Baxter International Inc., the Deerfield-based biopharmaceutical company, continues into September.

In March, the company announced its plan to split into two divisions: a side for research and development of biopharmaceuticals, and a side for distribution of medical products. Two months later, the Boston Business Journal, reported on “Project Tiger,” detailing a major life sciences company’s plans to relocate to Cambridge, Mass. Baxter denied reports that they were the company in question.

"As we stated in March, when we announced plans to create two separate, independent global health care companies, the corporate headquarters of both companies will be located in northern Illinois," Baxter Global Communications Director Deborah Spak said in an emailed statement.

In Cambridge, the Boston Globe reported that Baxter had set its sights on a 280,000-square-foot property in Kendall Square. The company behind “Project Tiger” reportedly expects to acquire an additional 200,000 square feet for research and laboratory space, following its primary move. Since June, the Kendall Square area has also become home to Pfizer Inc.

According to the Boston Business Journal, Massachusetts’ corporate tax rate is 8 percent and Illinois’ combined corporate income tax rate is about 9.5 percent, but that doesn’t take into account the tax credits the state of Illinois is prepared to offer any company in “active consideration” of leaving the state.

David Roeder, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development, told Crain’s Chicago Business that his department has yet to discuss any specific details regarding financial incentives for Baxter, as they are not yet clear on Baxter’s plans.

According to Baxter’s website, the biopharmaceutical company employees nearly 61,500 workers, with 5,400 located in Deerfield.

In 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn worked out a $100 million tax break package to keep Sears Holdings Corp., CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. in Illinois. According to a 2011 Chicago Tribune story, the move helped Sears Holdings keep its 6,100 employees in the state.