Following the completion of industry market research, the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has launched an intensive and targeted initiative to attract and develop a new medical-focused packaging concentration for the region.
"Regional market research confirmed that Whitley County is well-positioned for the development of a medical device and disposable-centered packaging concentration," said Alan Tio, president of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation. "All of the strategic elements - $8 billion worth of nearby medical device manufacturing operations, a state-of-the-art sterilization facility, strategic logistics capacity and location, an experienced workforce and packaging-ready facilities and expertise - are already in place to build a profitable and growing packaging concentration."
In concert with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation now plans to conduct an intensive outreach effort to establish a new concentration of packaging capabilities to support the array of full-service medical and other manufacturing companies. "We have a number of specific targets that we will be evaluating and reaching out to in the coming weeks and months," explained Tio.
"The Northeast Indiana region is gaining attention on a national scale for its efforts to strengthen the business climate of the region through collaboration," said John Sampson, President and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NEIRP). "The addition of packaging operations to an already robust medical device sector would help to complete the total package offering that the region can provide for companies across the United States and beyond."
Tio noted that medical device and medical disposable manufacturing companies in north central and northeast Indiana often outsource their packaging needs to companies outside of Indiana. "We also see orthopedic OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] in Warsaw intensively looking to reduce non-core and strategic costs by out-sourcing product packaging, and we see an aggressive outreach effort by out-of-state packaging companies to secure that Indiana business," he explained.
A major packaging company expanding into Whitley County would find a target-rich environment for rapid business development both in the orthopedic OEM market in Warsaw and in the existing medical device/disposable cluster in the greater Fort Wayne area.
"Indiana and other Midwest companies are currently sending their products hundreds, even thousands of miles away to Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois - even California - to be packaged, sterilized and shipped," said Brian Emerick, president and CEO of Micropulse, an orthopedic-related manufacturing company located in Whitley County. "Both local and regional medical device companies could save considerable time and money by engaging with a northeast Indiana-based packaging operation."
Packaging companies considering a possible Northeast Indiana expansion "will be pleasantly surprised to find the depth and expertise in medical-related packaging that already exists here, as well as strategic finance and investment incentives available in the region," Tio explained.
Deep expertise in packaging requirements, regulatory issues, traceability expertise, R&D validation and supply chain management already exists in the regional workforce. The presence of a new state-of-the-art sterilization facility greatly increases the local capacity and viability for the development of a medical device/disposable packaging concentration.
"One of the reasons we chose Indiana for expansion of our sterilization operations was the strategic presence of billion-dollar medical device manufacturers and the existence of several regional companies that make or distribute medical disposable products," said Jeff Blakely, general manager of Iotron Industries, USA. Iotron, an industry leader in the sterilization and materials modification industry, built a new $15 million facility and maintains high-capacity electron-beam sterilization operations in Whitley County.
"We are confident that a packaging company would experience rapid growth in the region and we are prepared to support that through strategic validation support," Blakely said.
Tio said that a strategic profile of packaging companies who could take part in the development of a regional medical device packaging cluster has been developed and that the economic development corporation would be "aggressively marketing Whitley County benefits to these companies."
The EDC retained Indianapolis-based MEK Group to conduct the national research, modeled on similar strategic market research that MEK provided for Iotron Industries to aid in its Indiana expansion decision.
The EDC and the NEIRP jointly funded the market research. The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has worked with local economic development organizations across the region, including the Whitley County EDC, for more than five years to identify and research five key industry clusters, including medical devices, in order to attract business investment.