Indianapolis, IN

Rebuilding a Community through Investment and Jobs

Building Indiana Business

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By Nick Dmitrovich

Everyone knows that when a company decides to establish a new facility, it can have a substantial impact on their chosen community. But, what if that notion was used as a force for good? What would happen if a company specifically chose a location where they could create the best possible local impact? That interesting idea is happening right here in Indiana today, with the culmination of a new medical device manufacturing facility from Cook Medical and its partners. The entire project was developed with a community-driven focus that could very well bring prosperity to an area with some of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in Indiana.

38th and Sheridan

The new medical device manufacturing facility is commonly referred to as the 38th and Sheridan project, after the location where it sits in Indianapolis. The project is a $15 million, 40,000-square-foot facility that is fully registered by the FDA to produce things like catheters, needles, sheaths, and medical introducers, which are a type of sheath used to place a catheter through the skin into an artery. Construction completed in early 2022 and operations began shortly after.

Cook Medical invested $7 million as a loan for the facility. The Indianapolis Foundation invested $4 million through IMPACT Central Indiana. And $4 million will be contributed through new market tax credits.

Instead of simply picking a location and setting up a new plant, Cook Medical took a very proactive approach to community revitalization. The company decided it was going provide over 100 jobs in an area with high rates of unemployment, poverty, and other systemic issues. Facing these challenges meant a lot more than just hiring local people. These new employees would need training, education, and support. So, to help meet these goals, Cook Medical partnered with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, and United Northeast Community Development Corporation.

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Cook Medical Building.Cook Medical.

Together, these partners have formed a framework that will enable the company’s new workers to succeed and ultimately regain a sense of ownership of their community.

“Companies can do good business and do good in the community at the same time,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group. “The challenges of generational poverty, substance use disorder, and barriers to education confront countless communities across Indiana. If owners and leaders of companies in Indiana join us in bringing jobs and opportunity back, we believe it’s possible to rebuild the middle class in our state.”

Beyond Employment

The 100 new employees will be making products for Cook Medical as employees of Goodwill Commercial Services, which will be the entity that operates the new facility. These are going to be high-skill manufacturing jobs intended to enable long-term employment and career development. Quite an array of additional services will be offered to guide these employees along their career paths, including physical and mental health access, support for substance use disorders, training in soft skills, housing stabilization, and more. Workers will also have access to free education that includes graduation levels up to a master’s degree and other professional certifications.

“Equity begins with intention. With the construction of this facility, we are making a statement that everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed—regardless of skin color. This is an investment so that our community can become more self-sufficient and begin to thrive,” said Ashley Gurvitz, COO and executive director of United Northeast Community Development Corporation.

MBE/XBE Commitment

Beyond the people they intend to hire, the project’s partners made other major commitments to economic revitalization by contracting 100% local minority-owned construction companies. The project team included a mix of union and nonunion firms, but all of them were Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) or XBEs (any combination of Women-, Veteran-, Disability-, and Minority-owned Business Enterprises) as certified by either Indiana or Indianapolis.

To help facilitate outreach efforts to all these different types of minority construction firms, Cook Medical partnered with The Darden Group, LLC, which itself is a W/MBE and a DBE. The Darden Group assisted with finding the contractors for the project.

Harmon Construction, Inc. was selected to serve as general contractor. The company is a third-generation family-owned construction firm.

“Harmon Construction is honored to be the leader of this minority constructed project. Our team looks forward to providing Cook with a positive construction experience, building not only a facility but a long-term relationship. Harmon, alongside Cook, is committed to African American businesses and workforce that we know will shine on the 38th street project,” said Bill Harmon, president of Harmon Construction.

Driving Business

The new building is also going to be serving local businesses in unique ways. The owner of the facility will be Prosper Devington Building Corporation, which is a recently formed 501(c)(2) title holding corporation.

“After paying its applicable expenses, including debt service, Prosper will distribute its remaining cash to a subsidiary of The Indianapolis Foundation. Beginning in 2022, it is projected that $100,000 will be available annually for six years to reinvest in the community,” read an economic impact study about the project from Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute.

Officials from Cook Medical said that excess proceeds from the facility will be used for community development like providing small business loans, sponsoring community clean-up projects, and more activities.

Indiana University’s study also looked at the immediate and future economic impact of the 38th and Sheridan project and reflected solid gains for the community. Researchers expect there will be:

  • An estimated economic impact of $25.9 million annually for Marion County,
  • $24 million in one-time construction-related contributions,
  • $3.1 million in estimated annual wages for the 100 new workers (not counting benefits),
  • And $4.1 million in estimated annual wages and benefits arising from an additional 52 jobs that are expected to grow in the local economy.

A Model for Others

As the 38th and Sheridan project hits its stride and begins to grow, it could easily become a model for others throughout the country. Now, others will have an answer to the question of what would happen when a company decides to use a new facility as a force for real change.

Cook Medical could have built its new location anywhere, but instead they chose something different. And they didn’t go it alone, instead bringing on quite a roster of other firms that could assist in the right ways. This type of concerted effort has the potential to spur significant economic development in historically disinvested areas and will definitely stand out as an interesting example to witness.

Construction Partners for the Cook Medical 38th and Sheridan Project

Development Partners:

Cook Medical

Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana

The Indianapolis Foundation

United Northeast Community Development Corporation

Sources: Cook Medical, The Darden Group, LLC

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