Cook Medical, not-for-profits joining forces on $15M medical device facility

Bloomington-based Cook Medical plans to invest $7 million to help build a $15 million medical device manufacturing facility at 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue that is expected to be transformational for the neighborhood on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

Cook has partnered with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, Impact Central Indiana and the United Northeast Community Development Corp. to build the facility and hire 100 employees for jobs expected to pay an average hourly wage of $16 plus benefits.

The groups are scheduled to announce the project Wednesday morning.

The 40,000-square-foot facility, to be built at 6190 E. 38th St., is expected to make medical devices including introducers, sheaths, drainage catheters and needles.

The development will bring new job opportunities to an area with some of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the state.

And it should have an impact on the Black community. People of color make up 86% of the area’s population.

Goodwill, which will employ the facility’s workers, will focus its recruitment efforts in the communities surrounding the project. And Cook has committed to using 100% minority-owned and locally owned contractors to build the facility.

Because the facility’s workers will be employed by Goodwill, they’ll receive wraparound services such as credit counseling and aid finding housing and transportation. And they’ll be able to pursue a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree or master’s degree through a free program offered by Cook.

Cook and The Indianapolis Foundation will fund the bulk of the project, with the foundation investing $4 million through Impact Central Indiana, a limited liability company created by the foundation, the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Hamilton County Community Foundation to make loans, equity investments and grants that further the charitable missions of the foundations.

The remaining $4 million will come from New Market Tax Credits through the city of Indianapolis. New Market Tax Credits are exchanged for cash to finance high-impact projects in certain low-income or distressed areas. Investors use the credits to cut their federal tax liability, reducing the financial risk of their projects.

Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group, said his company strives to be a good corporate citizen in Bloomington and wanted to do the same in Indianapolis. The company was intentional about finding a Black community to invest in, he said.

“This is not just a new manufacturing facility,” he said. “We’ve tried to take a holistic approach here to finding a way to create real opportunity for people. We think this project will bring more than just 100 jobs. We think we can be a real partner in helping the community try to spark new opportunity.”

The facility will be owned by the CICF through The Indianapolis Fund. The facility will be leased to Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, which will manufacture products exclusively as a supplier for Cook Medical.

Eventually, CICF expects that returns from the project to be invested in the community to help further economic growth.

Site work at the location is expected to begin this week and the building is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. Goodwill will start training employees before the opening for positions including production, team leads, quality control management and management.

Ashley Gurvitz, CEO of the Alliance for Northeast Unification, said she’s been impressed with the level of neighborhood engagement from Yonkman and Goodwill CEO Kent Kramer.

Typically, developers seek approval for a project before engaging the community, which can leave neighbors feeling like an afterthought in the process. Yonkman and Kramer have met with neighborhood leaders and residents, who are excited about the project.

“I saw it open the eyes of people,” Kramer said. “There was just so much excitement when they learned about the jobs, they learned about the investment in the community and they learned about the heart behind this.”

Yonkman said he hopes the project serves as a blueprint for other developments, where not-for-profits, business and government come together to provide employment opportunities in neighborhoods that desperately need them.

“This challenge exists across Indiana,” he said. “It exists in Black neighborhoods. It exists in white neighborhoods. It exists in rural Indiana and urban Indiana. We have a real challenge in our communities of bringing back the middle class.”

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