WATCH LIVE: $765M federal loan for Kodak to develop drug ingredients, aims to add 300 jobs in Rochester

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(News 8 WROC photo/Christian Garzone)

Editor’s note: Kodak press conference will be live streamed on this page at 4 p.m. EDT.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A big development for a former film powerhouse in Rochester.

Eastman Kodak Co, officials, along with federal officials from U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, announced an agreement for a $765 federal loan to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals, a new arm of the company that poses to transform the company into an industry leader in prescription drug manufacturing.

“This is going to be one of the greatest second acts in American industrial history,” said Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy at the White House Dr. Peter Navarro.

This project is the first use of new authority delegated by President Donald Trump’s recent executive order that enabled the DFC and the United States Department of Defense to collaborate on domestic response to COVID-19 under the Defense Production Act.

“Today, we are bringing together the significant resources and expertise of the private sector and U.S. Government,” said DFC CEO Adam Boehler. “We are pleased to support Kodak in this bold new venture. Our collaboration with this iconic American company will promote health and safety at home and around the world.”

Officials say this move will add 360 direct jobs for the company, plus an additional 1,200 indirectly, including some 300 here in Rochester where the company was founded by George Eastman in the late 1880s.

“Kodak is proud to be a part of strengthening America’s self-sufficiency in producing the key pharmaceutical ingredients we need to keep our citizens safe,” said Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza. “By leveraging our vast infrastructure, deep expertise in chemicals manufacturing, and heritage of innovation and quality, Kodak will play a critical role in the return of a reliable American pharmaceutical supply chain.”

According to officials, Kodak will produce ingredients for generic drugs, including the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine. Under the agreement, the loan must be repaid over 25 years.

“If we have learned anything from the global pandemic, it is that Americans are dangerously dependent on foreign supply chains for their essential medicines,” Navarro said. “This DFC-Kodak partnership is a big win for the use of President Trump’s DPA powers, a big win for New York, and a huge step forward towards American pharmaceutical independence.”

Kodak’s stock price spiked in pre-market hours and the rise continued into trading hours Tuesday as news of the loan agreement broke.

“This is about assuring our supply chains now and in the future,” said Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, White House Supply Chain Task Force Lead. “Kodak is stepping up to help onshore pharmaceutical production and this DPA action will allow the modernized Strategic National Stockpile to have domestic resiliency. Once Kodak ramps up we will have the ability to tap into that capacity for domestic use.”

Officials say Kodak Pharmaceuticals will produce pharmaceutical components that have been identified as essential, but have lapsed into chronic national shortage, as defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although Americans consume approximately 40% of the world’s supply of bulk components used to produce generic pharmaceutics, only 10% of these materials are manufactured in the United States, according to the DFC.

Statement from Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy:

“Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see a historic local company tapped for a federal manufacturing initiative that will help combat COVID-19, as well as bring 300 jobs to our region. Eastman Kodak Company has long been an important part of the Rochester/Finger Lakes economy, with unique capabilities and intellectual capital that will be put to critical use during this challenging time. I am a lifelong supporter of Kodak and deeply appreciate their incredible impact on Rochester. Today’s announcement reinforces that Kodak continues to add to our economic vitality. We are grateful for the continued leadership of Governor Cuomo, which has allowed New York State to turn the tide against this virus. Greater Rochester Chamber stands ready to assist Eastman Kodak Company and all local organizations as we work together to safely reopen and rebuild.”

Statement from Monroe County Executive Adam Bello:

“Today marks a new chapter for Eastman Kodak, which has been a world leader in innovation for over 130 years and has always called Rochester ‘home’. In this time of unprecedented challenge, this opportunity will showcase the best of Monroe County and our ability to quickly adapt to the needs of our new economy, even while responding to the COVID-19 crisis. I am excited to see Kodak leading this forward thinking initiative and am confident that our skilled workforce will make it a success.”

Statement from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren:

“Our residents created a legacy working at Kodak to provide world-class products and countless memories for people throughout our nation and our world,” said Mayor Warren. “Now, we will get another opportunity to show the world our ingenuity and quality again through Kodak Pharmaceuticals. I look forward to more Rochesterians going to work and building a new chapter in our shared history.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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