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PRACS to double facility size

Fargo-based pharmaceutical research center PRACS Institute Ltd., is doubling the size of its facility with a 129,000 square-foot, $20 million addition that will produce 100-120 new jobs.

Fargo-based pharmaceutical research center PRACS Institute Ltd., is doubling the size of its facility with a 129,000 square-foot, $20 million addition that will produce 100-120 new jobs.

"We need more beds. We need more study units," founder Dr. Jim Carlson, said Wednesday. "The addition will give PRACS in Fargo and East Grand Forks (Minn.) over 700 research beds, the largest two-site concentration of dedicated research study beds in North America."

PRACS also operates a dermatology research center at San Diego.

The three-story addition will complement the 115,000-square-foot headquarters built in 2002 at 4801 Amber Valley Parkway in Fargo. Construction is expected to be completed in August 2007.

The addition will contain space for dermatology research, clinical laboratory operations, four new 48-person study units with 260 beds, large and small conference and training rooms, expanded support offices and a small recreation area - "which will be appreciated when we have people sequestered here for 38 days," Carlson said.

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Project developer is George Gaukler, president of Valley Realty Inc. and High Line Construction of Valley City, N. D.

"This surely is a major project for us," said Gaukler, who built the current PRACS facility. "It probably is the biggest project we've done."

New jobs provided by the expansion range from high school graduate level to others requiring doctoral degrees, Carlson said. Of the up to 120 new jobs, 60 to 80 will be full time and 40 to 60 part time, he said.

PRACS has grown from 96 employees in 1999 to 465 at the end of last year and from 160 beds to 600 beds, Carlson said.

"And we're not done yet," he said.

In 1999, the research center paid out $2.3 million to 2,757 volunteers to participate in PRACS studies. Last year, 12,000 participants collectively earned $11.7 million for participating in PRACS research programs, he said.

The expansion should result in an additional $6 million to $8 million in fees paid to volunteers, he said.

Carlson founded PRACS Institute in 1983 while teaching at the North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy.

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The business was moved to 2601 N. University Drive in Fargo in 1985 and expanded to 2615 N. University Drive in 1988.

Carlson became full owner in 1990. In May 1995, PRACS opened a 120-bed clinical studies facility employing 33 full-time and 40 part-time staff.

In 1998, PRACS built its current medical center on Amber Valley Parkway.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502

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