Alexion Pharmaceuticals moving HQ from New Haven to Boston

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NEW HAVEN --  Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which received over $26 million in state aid to support their move into their new headquarters in New Haven  in 2016, has announced they will move their headquarters to Boston.

Apparently was not good enough. The company announced Tuesday morning they will move about half of the New Haven jobs to a new Boston headquarters next year.

Some 400 jobs will be headed to Boston by next summer. Roughly 450 are expected to remain in New Haven.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals' new CEO is Boston based. That fact, coupled with a worldwide sales force needing a full service airport are among the factors in Alexion's decision.

"We know we need a better airport," Matthew Nemerson, the Economic Development Administrator for New Haven. "We know we need those trains, quicker trains to New York. We have to keep building housing, which is coming."

"Boeing moved its corporate headquarters several years back from Seattle to Chicago because they felt it was more centered and enable them to do a global business," noted David Caden, a professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University.

"This is a company that grew up here in the state, came out of Yale and it's been nurtured by the city and the state and actually we were just really surprised and shocked that they would choose to move their corporate headquarters," said Catherine Smith, the Commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Alexion follows two other big companies that recently announced a move out of Connecticut. General Electric made the decision to leave for Boston, last year. A few months ago, Aetna announced it will move its headquarters from Hartford to New York.

Alexion is one of Governor Malloy's "First Five," companies, given financial incentives to encourage job creation in the state.

It's not all bad news, Amazon recently announced plans to build a large scale distribution center in North Haven to replace the former Pratt & Whitney site on Washington Avenue, which has been vacant for more than 15 years. Amazon plans to bring 1,800 jobs to this location.

But, New Haven's leaders were not at all surprised.

"We always knew that Alexion was going back-and-forth between Cambridge and New Haven from day one," said Nemerson. "When they were in Cheshire they were looking at that decision."

The company moved in to its new 450,000 square foot headquarters on College Street just a year and a half ago, thanks in part to $26 million in state aid - which the company says it will pay back, with interest and penalties.

"I'm glad the state is finally turning around and saying we want our engagement ring back and that they are going to be able to pay for it," said Cadden.

But, Nemerson says the move is actually a blessing in that other companies looking to expand their footprint in New Haven now have an option.

"What was keeping us up at night two nights ago was where are those companies gonna go in a year and are they going to secretly just leave because we don't have the hundred thousand square feet of great lab space for them," said Nemerson.

Alexion has been in turmoil, with its CEO and CFO being forced out in December. And the company's been investigated for alleged coercive sales practices.