FARGO — Gov. Doug Burgum played the role of contractor Monday, Aug. 19, using a front end loader to scoop dirt while Aldevron owners and VIPs threw dirt in the air to signal the start of a big project in Fargo.

Aldevron broke ground on a 14-acre expansion that it says will put the local company front and center on the stage of gene therapy research. The facilities will house the company's plasmid DNA research efforts. The technology is used to develop gene therapies and other medical breakthroughs.

Aldevron CEO Michael Chambers explained that the new buildings are designed to accommodate a workforce of 1,000 people that will serve the growing gene therapy and cell therapy industries.

"It is the largest plasmid DNA facility in the world. We are supplying clinical trials across the country and the globe," Chambers said.

After Swedish equity firm EQT announced in late July that it would be acquiring a majority interest in Fargo-based Aldevron, some members of the Fargo-Moorhead community looked for reassurance that the biotech company would stay in the area.

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With the groundbreaking and a city tax break amounting to $4.6 million over the next 10 years, Aldevron said there are no plans to pick up and leave where it got its start.

Eric Liu, a partner at EQT, said his firm is excited about Aldevron's future.

"It is very rare where you have the opportunity to invest in a company that is not only a good company, but it is really changing how medicine is delivered and having an impact on the world," Liu said.