Pepsi deal for Research Campus now on hold
By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS ó PepsiCo’s plans to open a 4,000-square-foot laboratory at the N.C. Research Campus apparently are on hold.
The food and beverage giant announced last fall that it would join the $1.5 billion biotechnology complex in Kannapolis, making it the campus’ highest profile industry partner.
But the economy may have changed those plans, Research Campus founder David Murdock said.
“It’s in flux,” he said.
A PepsiCo spokesperson on Friday said the company has no comment at this time.
PepsiCo still wants to join the campus, but “we’re not sure what the nature will be,” said Murdock, the billionaire owner of Dole Food Co.
“Everybody has slowed down,” said Murdock, who was in Kannapolis Friday to break ground for the new Rowan-Cabarrus Community College building, which had been delayed for more than a year due to the economy.
Lynne Scott Safrit, president of campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina, confirmed that PepsiCo still wants to partner with the campus but said she can’t predict what role the company might have.
PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, Quaker Foods and Gatorade, announced in October that it would open a research and development facility at the campus to find ways to make its products more nutritious.
The company was supposed to move into the Core Laboratory Building, the centerpiece of the Research Campus. Dr. Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer for PepsiCo, said the company would send its “brightest and best scientists” to the campus.
Officials speculated about collaborations between PepsiCo and universities with research programs in Kannapolis.
The Research Campus Web site still lists PepsiCo as one of the “companies that have committed to the campus.”
Safrit said Friday that developers will announce other new company partners.