Lafayette officials hoping for best on Lilly plant

Lafayette-area leaders anticipate meeting soon with Eli Lilly and Co. officials to try to play a role in the Indianapolis-based drug giant’s plans for the 54-year-old Tippecanoe Laboratories, according to The Journal & Courier of Lafayette.

Lilly said July 30 that an announcement on the future of the plant would be forthcoming within a year.

The plant, which makes ingredients for Lilly’s Gemzar cancer drug and its Tylan livestock medication, might be closed, eliminating 780 jobs. Its resources might be partially reallocated, the 2,300-acre site could be sold, or the space could be shared with other manufacturers.

Tippecanoe Labs is a critical piece of the Lafayette area’s economy. Its assessed value of $170 million is expected to generate $3 million in taxes from 2007, and many of the employees hold well-paying positions.

In 2004, when Lilly had 1,200 workers at the site, total compensation and benefits exceeded $90 million.

Lilly is trying to cut costs while shifting to a greater concentration on biotechnology drugs.

Early this month, Lilly announced it would shed its Greenfield Laboratories and outsource other work in order to slash overhead costs. The labs were sold to New Jersey-based Covance Inc., a contract research organization.

Lilly agreed to give Covance at least $1.6 billion of work over the next decade.

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