PERU — A property development company is set to purchase a county-owned shell building and invest over $44 million in the facility to house a high-tech medical manufacturing company that officials say will employee around 40 people.
Hilo Property Development plans to construct a state-of-the-art isotope production and scientific research facility inside the building near Grissom Air Reserve Base that will be only the second of its kind in the country.
Company President Wade Brooksby said the facility will house a 280,000-pound cyclotron machine that produces medical isotopes that are used in cardiovascular infusions, heart or circulatory imaging and treating prostate cancer.
The company, which Brooksby said hasn't been named yet, would like to begin operating as early as November, and plans to hire 40 new employees, including engineers and scientific chemists, over the next two years. The average wage will be $49.45 an hour with an annual payroll averaging $4.11 million.
Brooksby said the only other facility of its kind in the U.S. is located in Noblesville and is owned by a hospital.
He said the medical company is moving quickly to begin manufacturing the isotopes after other countries which supplied the product stopped shipping it to the U.S. due to a high demand for the product in their own countries.
“It’s a void that’s been created, and we’re trying to go in and fill that void,” Brooksby said.
The move comes after the Miami County council approved $2.75 million in funding to build the shell building in 2015 after learning the county didn’t have any buildings available to attract new businesses.
Now, Hilo Property Development is set to purchase the facility in August, along with 20 acres of land, for $2.775 million. The company plans to expand the existing facility by around 30,000 square feet and construct areas for production, research, office and shipping and receiving.
Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said the building made a good fit for the company because it could be expanded easily, had additional acreage, is close to major highways and has access to the runway at Grissom Air Reserve Base.
“They’re excited as much as we are about the potential of the shell building and what it has to offer,” he said.
The company also liked the fact that the building is close to major universities such as Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame universities, to recruit research-and-development talent and help advance technology for medical isotope production.
The project received a financial boost Tuesday after the Miami County Council approved an ordinance giving a 70% reimbursement on real property taxes paid by the company through a tax-increment-financing district for 10 years.
The company also received a 70% tax abatement on personal property taxes for 10 years.
John Brown, a consultant who works with Brooksby, said once the cyclotron machine inside the facility is up and running, it will produce a small amount of radioactive material that will be shipped outside the state to be disposed.
“All things considered, this is considered very low-level radiation,” he told the council.
Brooksby said the medical company is now looking and installing two other isotope facilities somewhere in the U.S., and is considering building those by the facility near Grissom to create a single company campus.