An illegal California lab run by a Chinese biotech company, Prestige Biotech, was recently found in a warehouse in Reedley, California, and is at the centre of the current issue. Mice that were genetically modified to disseminate COVID-19 were kept in the lab.
Court records also revealed that the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) tested the more than 800 chemicals discovered there and discovered the presence of over 20 infectious agents, including Hepatitis B and C, streptococcus pneumonia, chlamydia, rubella, and Herpes 1 and 5. Where will the money trail take us as a federal inquiry is ongoing?
Chinese biotech company: Prestige Biotech
Prestige Biotech is registered in the State of Nevada, however it lacks a California business licence, as was just recently found. According to emails and court documents, Xiuqin Yao, President of Prestige Biotech, spoke with code enforcement officers from the City of Reedley. Ms. Yao notified the authorities that the business was Universal Meditech (UMI), Inc.’s (the bankruptcy’s largest creditor). After an electrical fire and when UMI discontinued operations, UMI was moved from the City of Fresno to the Reedley warehouse. Prestige Biotech was listed as UMI’s successor in court records and was a creditor of UMI, according to NBC News.
According to a document published on March 24 by the Office of Business and Economic Development under Governor Newsom, UMI and California Competes have a $360,000 tax credit distribution agreement in place. The Fresno County Economic Development Corporation’s advice on tax credit options and human resources was appreciated in 2019 by Mr Zhaoyan Wang, CEO of UMI.
“The EDC has helped us save a lot of time and working capital on staff hiring by offering us advice, HR resources, and working with us on the NEO programme. The EDC has also provided us with information on additional business incentives, such as the California Compete Tax Credit, and has sent us to the appropriate departments and persons for more help. Wang Zhaoyan
According to a February 2019 story by The Business Journal:
“A Tulare manufacturer of medical devices has made the move to Fresno, and has created 10 new jobs in the process.
Universal Meditech’s new home is located in the North Pointe Industrial Business Park near North and Orange avenues. The 3-year-old company develops, makes and sells in vitro diagnostic devices including pregnancy, ovulation and menopause tests.
Zhaoyan Wang, Universal Meditech CEO, attributed lower costs, location and access to a diverse pool of capable employees in making the decision to move to Fresno.
“Everyone in Fresno, from the Economic Development Staff and City Planners to the property owner that offered us beautiful space to lease at an affordable price were wonderful,” Wang said in a statement. “The entire process was smooth and we are extremely happy with our decision to move our headquarters to the City of Fresno.”
The company had determined its previous space was too expensive and didn’t suit their growing needs. Candace Liu, Universal Meditech’s chief operating officer, said the company explored other options in California and even out of state. A tag team effort from the City of Fresno Economic Development Department and the Fresno County Economic Development Corp. played a key role in relocating their manufacturing and research and development operations to the company’s 20,000 square-foot Fresno space.
“We are extremely grateful for their commitment to keep growing companies like us in California,” Liu said.
To date Universal Meditech has hired about 10 new employees in Fresno, and have retained a number of their South Valley employees who decided to remain and make the commute north.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand attributes the successful move of Universal Meditech, among others, to the availability of a well-trained Fresno workforce combined with an influx of available industrial space offered at affordable prices.
“We have everything that businesses need to ensure ongoing success,” Brand said. “If you are looking for the perfect environment to allow your business to grow, Fresno should be at the top of your list.”