Philadelphia's first Black-owned cryopreservation facility is now open

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Friday, June 9, 2023
Philly's first Black-owned cryopreservation facility is now open
A new Black-owned $25 million facility is poised to make a difference not just in Philadelphia, but in the national medical field.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new $25 million facility is poised to make a difference not just in the Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia, but in the national medical field.

And it's entirely Black-owned.

A crowd of people gathered Friday morning to celebrate the grand opening for SUPRA Office Solutions and EMSCO Scientific Enterprises on West Jefferson Street.

The companies came together to create Philadelphia's first African-American-owned cryopreservation facility.

"It'll be one of the first private enterprises, other than housed at a university proper or research institute proper, in the city of Philadelphia," said Lin Thomas, a partner, chairman and CEO of SUPRA / EMSCO.

Ismail Shahid is one of the three owners, all Black men. It's something he couldn't even dream of growing up just two blocks away from the new facility.

"To be able to bring different pieces of STEM (and) to put it right here inside of a neighborhood I actually grew up in, it's unbelievable and unimaginable," said Shahid who is executive VP of sales and government affairs for SUPRA / EMSCO.

Putting the facility in Parkside was intentional and transformational.

"This was a blighted area for almost 30 years. It was a dump site. And it quite frankly was an eyesore," said Thomas.

"We had many opportunities to go closer to the universities, the (educational and medical institutions) but we decided to bring and put this fabric within the community," said Shahid.

The 70,000-square-foot facility holds offices and a cryopreservation facility.

"We can store at minus 80-degree temperatures, cell, gene and tissue culture, so if you think about DNA," said Thomas.

There's also warehouse space for critical medical supplies.

"Pharmaceutical products, particularly chemical products used for the production of vaccines," said Thomas.

It's something that takes on personal significance after the business's fourth partner died from COVID.

The remaining three business owners persevered with support, including from State Senator Vincent Hughes (D - Dist. 7) who helped secure government funding for the endeavor.

The entrepreneurs also received support from community members, many of whom showed up for the grand opening.

"What's really important here today are community members," said Thomas. "We are very committed to the general community."

As the company makes history, it also hopes to make an impact.

"This hopefully will be encouragement to others," said Thomas.