Cook Group plans $16.5M local expansion, 82 jobs

Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc. plans to spend about $16.5 million to expand its medical research and development facility in Indianapolis in a project that could create 82 jobs over the next five years.

The expansion plans are contained in tax-abatement request that Department of Metropolitan Development staff members are recommending for approval by the Metropolitan Development Commission.

The facility at 1102 Indiana Ave. opened in 2012 and is home to Cook’s General BioTechnology and Regentec divisions.

Cook's 7.7-acre property is in the city’s 16 Tech project area—a 60-acre tract of land just north of the Indiana University School of Medicine campus that is expected to include a mix of research labs, corporate offices, business incubators, co-working spaces, apartments, retail businesses and parks.

The City-County Council voted unanimously in November to approve $75 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements to get the 16 Tech development off the ground.

“[Cook Group] is a premier company with deep roots in our state as both as a major employer and a proud corporate citizen,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Tuesday in a written statement. “That’s why we are thrilled at the opportunity to explore how they can continue to flourish as part of a bioscience campus producing research and innovation that will be felt around the world.”

According to its proposal, Cook wants to spend $12.5 million to construct a 7,000-square-foot mezzanine and add new office and laboratory space. The company would create the space by expanding the existing building or by constructing a new, adjacent building at 1200 Indiana Ave. Construction could begin by the end of the year.

Cook said it would spend about $4 million on equipment for the expanded facility, including lab equipment and instruments, biological safety cabinets and material processing equipment.  

The company said the expansion would help it retain 68 employees who make an average of $28.85 per hour (roughly $60,000 per year).

The additional 82 employees, who are expected to be hired by the end of 2021, would make an estimated $29.03 per hour, the company said. Almost half of the new employees aren’t expected to be hired until 2021.

The DMD is recommending Cook receive a 10-year real property tax abatement on the $12.5 million real estate project that would save the company about $927,000 (70 percent) over the abatement period.

Cook still would pay almost $400,000 in real property taxes during that time, in addition to the current taxes being paid on the existing property of $63,827 annually. Taxes on the additional property will rise to about $132,400 annually after the abatement period.

The DMD also is recommending Cook receive a 10-year personal property tax abatement on the $4 million equipment investment that would save the company about $301,000 (70 percent) over the abatement period.

Cook would still pay almost $129,000 in personal property taxes on the new equipment during the abatement period, plus about $37,000 annually after the abatement ends.

Project proponents expect 16 Tech to attract $100 million in private development by 2018 and $450 million in the district’s first decade. If fully developed, 16 Tech would feature 2.8 million square feet of office space for high-tech businesses, academic, health care and creative design uses; 1.7 million square feet of residential space; and 600,000 square feet for retailers, hotels and other amenities.

Cook Regentec focuses on developing research and clinical tools to advance regenerative medicine therapies. Cook General Biotechnology works on the science and application of processing, storage and manufacturing of cells and tissues.

“We are excited about the opportunity to grow Cook Medical’s presence in Indianapolis,” a Cook spokeswoman said in a written statement to IBJ. “We look forward to working with the City-County Council as this tax abatement application is under consideration.”

The project represents the first phase of a multistage expansion of Cook's presence in Indianapolis, according to city staff's analysis of the abatement request. "Should this phase of the project proceed, it would increase the likelihood that that Cook would continue expansion here in the future," the report says.

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