Bloomington-based Cook Medical Inc. is addressing Indiana’s housing shortage for middle-income families, and it is starting with its own workers. The medical device maker says it will build 300 houses across south-central Indiana, beginning in Owen County.
The company has purchased 62 acres of land across the street from the Cook Spencer facility. Plans call for the construction of 90 homes. Cook employees will get the first option to buy.
“Addressing the shortage of workforce housing within our region will be a multi-year effort,” said Steve Ferguson, chairman of the board for Cook Group. “We believe in making our communities stronger and investing in workforce housing is one way we will continue to help our employees and communities reach their full potential, including a dream of home ownership.”
To help fund the project, the company says its real estate arm, CFC Properties, would sell some of its commercial properties to help with the growing need for workforce housing.
The Holcomb Administration made housing a top priority for its 2022 legislative agenda as it attempts to attract and retain workers. In March 2020, the administration created the Housing Work Group, as part of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, to examine the state’s housing supply.
Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch says having enough housing for an increasing number of workers in the state is a challenge. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Crouch said Cook’s initiative is part of the solution.
“The private sector drives progress. Government can be a catalyst. Government can be a partner, but it’s the private sector that moves the needle and that is why it is so important for communities to have those corporations not just providing jobs, but providing support for the community,” said Crouch.
During an interview with Inside INdiana Business reporter Wes Mills, Crouch said other large companies in southwest Indiana are creating incentives, beyond basic jobs, to help attract and retain quality workers.
Cook will provide employees with education and resources to help them with the home buying process and prepare them to become homeowners.