Drug distributor to create 1,300 jobs in region

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Medco Health Solutions’ plan to build a large pharmacy distribution center in the Indianapolis area hits the state’s “sweet spot” for economic development, local and state officials said today.

By employing pharmacists to oversee prescriptions, engineers and computer geeks to design and run robotic equipment to dump pills into bottles, and logistics workers to route 1 million prescriptions a week to patients, Medco’s facility will feature all the kinds of jobs Indiana wants: life sciences, information technology and logistics.

“This is one that’s really important because it helps diversify our economy,” said Nate Feltman, Indiana’s secretary of commerce. “We’re still the most manufacturing-heavy state in the nation.”

The project was officially announced this morning at a press conference at the Indiana Statehouse.

The 1,300-plus jobs the facility will add by 2012 come with potentially high paychecks. Salaries will range from $40,000 to $100,000, according to Medco officials. Based in Franklin Lakes, N.J., Medco is one of the nation’s 60 largest companies, with 2006 revenue of more than $42 billion.

Medco has yet to choose where it will locate its 318,000-square-foot facility, as it ponders sites in Boone, Hendricks and Johnson counties. Medco President Kenneth Klepper said the company would choose a site in the next 30 days.

Medco plans to begin constructing the $150 million facility next year and open it in early 2009.

“This is a huge jewel in the crown of our state,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said at the event. Of the economic development projects announced by his administration, Medco’s total payroll is second only to that of the Honda plant in Greensburg.

To lure Medco, the state offered tax credits of $18.25 million and training grants of $450,000. Local property tax incentives also are expected to be offered once Medco selects a site.

Work force was top issue for Medco as it chose the Indianapolis area over Louisville, Ky., and 20 other cities, Klepper said.

The presence of Butler University and Purdue University pharmacy graduates was a big deal, he said, as nearly a third of the jobs will require pharmacy backgrounds. Purdue and Indiana University also can offer a stream of graduates for the information technology and other positions the facility will create, Klepper said.

Klepper also said that the Indianapolis area was chosen because of its central location and because being near FedEx’s hub at Indianapolis International Airport will save time and money in shipping. Medco provides prescriptions for roughly 60 million Americans.

Medco’s announcement comes just weeks after Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. opened its own automated pharmacy distribution center and call center at Indianapolis International Airport. The 126,000-square-foot facility distributes specialty medications. It currently has 400 workers, and will ramp up to 900 by the end of 2009.

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