MISSOULA -- A new development will help Hamilton continue to grow its bio-science community, while fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Officials plan to build a vaccine developmen and manufacturing plant on 44 acres of land on Old Corvallis Road, across the railroad tracks from the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority.

It sits in between the Rocky Mountain Labratory and GlaxoSmithKline, both focused on vaccine development.

The purchased land was owned originally by Marcus Daly, but kept in the family and sold by Ilona Bessenyey and her husband, who own the Bitterroot Stock Farm. 

Bessenyey said they've had opportunities to sell before, but Tonix Pharmaseuticals seemed like the best fit. 

"There were a variety of people who would have reached out to us, but this just really seemed to build on a lot of the strengths that Hamilton has to begin with," Bessenyey said.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals CEO, Seth Lederman, agreed that Hamilton's bio-science community was one reason they chose Montana. 

"The fact that our focus is on vaccines and particularly vaccines for viral illnesses, the idea of being close to the national lab and all of the expertise and talent that's there is very appealing to us," Lederman said.

The facility will support Tonix's vaccine candidates, including a potential COVID-19 vaccine that's based on the backbone of the smallpox vaccine, developed over 200 years ago. 

"While we're building this for our vaccine specifically and our platform, we do see this as a general trend and we hope to be a leader in bringing that kind of capability back to the United States," Lederman said. 

Bessenyey said it took the work of many in the Hamilton community to make this happen. 

"It was just a matter of everybody really aligning in a fashion and I think recognizing that this really has potential to be a wonderful opportunity for Hamilton," she said.

Lederman said they don't have a set construction start date, but their hoping to break ground in early 2022.

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