Cheryl Blanchard is chief scientific officer at Zimmer Holdings Inc. in Warsaw and chairwoman of OrthoWorx, a not-for-profit initiative launched in September to help improve the growth environment for orthopedic companies in Warsaw.
IBJ: OrthoWorx has now identified seven focus areas (branding, community enhancement, K-16 education, talent and work force, transportation and logistics, support services for orthopedics companies, and research and innovation). OrthoWorx has also hired an executive director, Brad Bishop. How would you rate the organization's progress so far?
A: We had a dedicated board, but clearly we all have day jobs. The recent announcement of Brad is our key accomplishment there. Those things always take longer than you’d like them to. The fact that we’ve been able to get committees set up and led by an individual board member and get Brad hired—we are really poised to make great progress.
IBJ: A big focus of OrthoWorx is talent attraction. You came to Warsaw in 2000 from Texas, after growing up in New York. What are the biggest assets and shortcomings the Warsaw area has when it comes to attracting more people like you?
A: It’s a small, happy town in the Midwest. It’s a nice place to raise kids. It’s a very pretty area with the lakes around us. The lifestyle is very attractive for those that have families. Those are all good things. But the transportation and logistics aspect for us is probably a big one, especially for those who have to travel a lot. [Also], it’s probably the community enhancement, education pieces. There are lot of people that work here that choose to live in Fort Wayne or South Bend and commute.
IBJ: The companies in Warsaw have thrived for more than a century, making Warsaw the orthopedics capital of the world. Why do they now need a multi-company group to face the future?
A: There are issues that we all have as companies together that we need to deal with. To really identify the opportunities and the challenges that the community has. To really be able to attract and retain the kind of talent that we need to grow these businesses. We have a history of coming together (on industry-wide issues through trade associations). As we all know, when you come together in numbers, your strength is greater. We felt the same was true on these community issues.