Thursday marked exactly two years since global healthcare company Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) announced plans to invest $38 million to build a manufacturing facility in Westfield and eventually hire up to 450 employees. Since then, construction has been completed and the 120,000-square-foot facility is now open and producing a device used to repair leaky heart valves. The investment by the Illinois-based company is one of the largest life sciences investments in Indiana in years.

In an interview with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta, Abbott Senior Vice President of the Structural Heart Division Michael Dale said Abbott could have built anywhere.

“We had many choices, but we ultimately chose Indiana based upon people location, cost of production and potential for the future,” said Dale, who added the company undergoes a rigorous process to evaluate what would be best to bring the products to market.

“The reception we received. The cooperation required to bring forward one of these projects was exemplary. And ultimately all of that was the reason why we chose Indiana,” said Dale.

When the multi-million-dollar project was announced in October 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet fully-choked the global supply chain. But as months passed, the company and its Indiana project faced numerous challenges, according to Dale.

“There were many, many interruptions, barriers and disruptions but we were able to navigate them and openly bring the plant on schedule, online,” said Dale. “I think Indiana can take great pride in the fact that we worked together through that. The ability to source materials, to source the skilled labor required to continue to keep this plant on schedule.”

In addition to the Westfield facility in the Northpoint Industrial Park, Abbott also produces the mitral valve repair clip in Menlo Park, California. Dale says global demand necessitated the need for a second manufacturing plant.

“We’re all living longer lives in every continent around the world. And with that comes a natural burden of heart disease,” said Dale. “Demand has grown exponentially. We needed to look to the future and establish a new footprint that would allow us to meet that production. That’s why we chose Indiana.”