Tissue Banks International, which has about 90 local employees, is leaving San Rafael this month to move to Richmond.

"Pretty simply, we lease this space in San Rafael and we outgrew it," said Nancy Thrush, Tissue Banks' vice president of marketing and communications.

Tissue Banks, a nonprofit network of medical eye and tissue banks based in Baltimore, has been leasing a 28,689-square-foot building at 2593 Kerner Blvd. since 1992. Tissue Banks will now move its San Rafael operations to a building in Richmond, which it has purchased.

"It's two to three times larger than the building in San Rafael," Thrush said.

Tissue Bank's San Rafael facility was one of the largest musculosketal tissue processing centers in Northern California. Thousands of musculosketal tissue donations and corneas were stored there each year.

Tendons, skin, femurs and eyes - gathered from deceased local organ and tissue donors - were dispatched to Tissue Bank's San Rafael location. Their technicians, some of whom are physicians from overseas, prepared the tissues in specially filtered "clean rooms." The tissue was stored in freezers prior to delivery to doctors, hospitals and medical device companies.

In its 2012 tax filing, Tissue Banks reported $45.6 million in total revenue and an excess of revenue over expenses of about $1 million. Thrush said the company has more than 200 employees nationwide. In addition to California, the nonprofit has offices in eight other states. San Rafael was its largest facility.


Advertisement

San Rafael City Manager Nancy Mackle said, "We are always sorry to lose a local business to another city. Our economic development staff works with the chamber to conduct business retention interviews with a sample of businesses each year to identify needs, but most often we hear they are leaving after the decision is made, not before."

Robert Eyler, CEO of the Marin Economic Forum and a professor at Sonoma State University, said, " I don't think there is any reason to hit the panic button or to think this is a signal of a major out-migration of these type of businesses.

"It's just a sign that our commercial space is relatively restricted in terms of breadth," he said, " and when a business like this needs to triple in size it is difficult to find a property to suit their needs in Marin County."

Arthur Manseau, the owner of the San Rafael building that Tissue Banks is vacating, said Tissue Banks spent $5 million upgrading the 1980s structure so it could accommodate the nonprofits' formidable electricity needs.

"BioMarin could easily move in," Manseau said.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. announced in December that it has signed an agreement to purchase the San Rafael Corporate Center for $116.5 million to accommodate its growth needs.

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at rhalstead@marinij.com

---

©2014 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com