Abzena, a San Diego-based life sciences group, will open a new facility in the Central Carolina Enterprise Park, Gov. Roy Cooper and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance announced Tuesday.

It will be housed in the park’s second shell building which contains 117,000 square feet and will create 325 jobs offering an average annual salary of $60,000, a SAGA news release said.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” Jimmy Randolph, SAGA’s CEO, said Tuesday morning.

Recruitment of Abzena has been underway since fall, Randolph said, and had been dubbed Project Star until the business deal was sealed.

Abzena is a contract manufacturer that works with companies and academic groups all over the world, including most of the top 20 bio-pharmaceutical companies, the SAGA release said.

“Abzena’s range of services focus on antibody discovery and immunology assessment,” the release said.

“They have very broad and extensive experience in life-sciences manufacturing,” Randolph said.

Abzena plans to invest $213 million in the county based on construction needs and the installation and purchase of machinery, according to Randolph.

Work at the site is expected to start once the final agreement is in place with CCEP owners, Randolph said.

“They’ll (Abzena) will begin upfitting (the shell building) for their purposes and 2022 is a goal for beginning manufacturing at the facility,” he said.

The date could vary based on construction needs.

The investment impact could mean a nearly 2-cent reduction in the property tax over the seven-year agreement with the county and city, officials have said.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners and Sanford City Council approved a total of $11 in incentives that are performance-based.

“We are delighted that Abzena chose Lee County, thus helping us to grow our local life sciences industry,” Kirk Smith, commission chairman, said in the release.

“We look forward to the beneficial economic impact for our community as well as the future tax relief for our citizens.”

Sanford Mayor Chet Mann agreed.

“Our city is thrilled with this announcement of such a high achieving and high quality company who is focused on the continued development of better treatment for patients,” Mann said in the release.

“We are very pleased to have been selected as their new location and to add Abzena to our growing life-sciences community.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis also spoke about the firm’s to decision to locate in Lee County.

“The announcement by Abzena holdings to invest $213 millions and create 325 in Sanford is great news for Lee County,” Tillis said.

“I am proud our office was able to collaborate with key state partners to help secure this deal. I never miss an opportunity to advocate on behalf of our great state and I look forward to continuing to do my part to recruit new jobs for working families across North Carolina.”

Abzena joins Pfizer and Audentes Therapeutics in the gene therapy and life-science facilities in the county.