Scott Fadness (photo courtesy of the city of Fishers)

In my role as mayor of Fishers, I strive to continuously bring new opportunities for my community. Just three years ago, if I came across economic development opportunities in the life sciences industry, I immediately assumed there was no chance for Fishers and that the opportunity would be relegated to communities with research institutions. 

Admittedly, I did not understand the breadth of the industry, nor did I understand the incredible potential that exists in the life sciences industry for our region. Today, Fishers stands as a proof of concept for the transformational potential of this industry when applied broadly across our region.

Nearly three years ago I stood in an empty parking lot along with Megan Baumgartner, our economic and community development director, talking to a group of life science entrepreneurs. The discussion? The founders were looking at Fishers for the construction of a contract pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. As a community that has focused on technology and commercial office prospects, we were intrigued by this new type of “manufacturing.”

As these entrepreneurs continued to share, they planned to produce great paying jobs and commit to a significant investment in a facility that would not detract from the quality of life we have worked hard to build in our city. In a sense, Cory Lewis of INCOG BioPharma Services believed in us before we believed in ourselves. We were fortunate to have INCOG select Fishers for their $60 million, state-of-the-art contract manufacturing facility. Through this process we learned a great deal from the leadership team at INCOG and started to believe that this was an industry that our community could be successful in recruiting and supporting.

Since that time, we have recruited and secured $750 million in investments from the following:

  • INCOG: $ 60 million, 250 jobs
  • Stevanato: $512 million, 515 Jobs
  • List Biotherapeutics: $110 million, 210 Jobs
  • Genezen: $40 million, 62 Jobs
  • Quantigen: $2.5 million, 30 jobs
  • Telix: $200,000, 30 jobs
  • BiomEdit: $1.65 million, 95 jobs
  • Thermo Fisher: $6.5 million, 50 jobs

This isn’t intended to be a promotional piece, but instead a warning shot to the Indianapolis metro area that we are leaving jobs, investment, and opportunity on the table when it comes to this industry. We believe there are still several great opportunities in the pipeline and that there is significant growth potential for the entire region. In just three years, Fishers will see 10x growth in life sciences lab and office space. So why have we been successful and why do I believe our region is well suited to capitalize now? There are a number of macro, logistical, and frankly, historical reasons for this to be our region’s time to capitalize.

On the macro level, the world has awoken to the need to have the capacity to respond to emergent health issues. More importantly, from a geopolitical or national security perspective, there is a renewed sense of urgency to have these capabilities within our borders. Cost of labor and real estate along with hostile regulatory environments have made the east and west coasts less attractive than they once were.  Medical and technology advancements that were accelerated due to the response to COVID have also ushered in a new era of opportunities for additional vaccine and medical device development. These macro trends support the opportunity for our region to be competitive in this industry.

Our region has the logistical and educational infrastructure to support this industry. We are home to one of the largest Fed-Ex hubs in the world. Langham Logistics and Cardinal Health are national leaders in the logistics of the life sciences industry. Purdue University has one of the top ranked schools for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Our region is fortunate to also have supportive institutions like the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s Biocrossroads that work to further the industry and tackle issues such as workforce development.

We should also not discount our region’s incredible history regarding the life science industry. We are home to Eli Lilly & Company, Elanco, and Roche’s North American Headquarters. Our region’s people have not only an incredible amount of knowledge and skill in the pharmaceutical industry, but we are steeped in the knowledge and experience of general manufacturing. This history creates a unique competitive advantage for our region.

The emerging life sciences economy in Fishers has the potential to be the Indy Metro’s story and in doing so can usher in a new chapter for our collective city that has the potential to create jobs that break generational cycles of poverty, attract the next generation of educated and talented work force, and create a new, unique, and sustaining identity for the greater Indianapolis community. It’s time to call our shot.

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