The fastest-growing company in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park opened an expanded office and laboratory space Wednesday.
Since it was founded in 2009, Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. has grown from a staff of 11 people to about 180 employees. Its revenue reached about $70 million in 2010, said Tonya Mallory, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer.
The company still is hiring and expects to reach a total employment of about 210 this year.
"We're adding about a half a body a day," Mallory joked at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the company's expanded 42,000-square-foot office and lab space in the park's Biotech Eight building, which was shell space before HDL Inc.'s $4.2 million expansion.
The company's rapid growth is unusual for biotechnology, where firms often take years to develop products and grow beyond a handful of employees, or reach profitability.
The 34-acre park in downtown Richmond is home to 66 private sector firms, nonprofits, research institutes and government laboratories.
The Virginia Biotechnology Association backs legislation that would provide a refundable research and development tax credit for companies.
Two bills have been introduced that would provide a tax credit to Virginia companies amounting to 15 percent of the cost of qualified research and development expenses. As an added incentive to invest, the credit would increase to 20 percent if the research is conducted in partnership with a public college or university in Virginia.
"Certainly, I think it would be a help to many early-stage companies that we see here at the research park," Skunda said.
Herzog said the credit would help companies obtain capital to reinvest in their businesses.
"In this economic environment, it is incredibly hard for many life sciences companies to obtain the capital they need to continue to make investments in equipment, clinical trials and people," Herzog said. He said 38 other states have a similar tax credit for research and development.
By John Reid Blackwell