Bloomington-based Cook Medical Group announced plans Wednesday to invest $7 million to build a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing plant on the northeast side of Indianapolis, creating 100 jobs for residents in an impoverished neighborhood.
The project is being developed in a public-private partnership with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, and the United Northeast Community Development Corp.
Employees will manufacture a variety of FDA-approved medical devices such as drainage catheters and needles for Cook, but they will be employees of Goodwill Commercial Services.
“It is a win for everyone involved, including the community itself. We hope that this model can serve as an example and inspire other businesses and organizations to join us,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Group and Cook Medical. “There’s a lack of hope that’s born from generational poverty from decades of manufacturing jobs leaving our communities and from lack of access to real opportunity that will lead to a better life.”
The organizations say the Goodwill Commercial Services building will be owned by a newly formed 501(c)2 entity.
The coalition says the high-skill manufacturing training will provide employees opportunities for long-term employment and career progression.
“We’ve been a supplier of Cook for a few years now. But more importantly, Cook has come to understand the driving force behind Goodwill, our mission, our vision and values,” said Kent Kramer, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana. “Goodwill’s experience in manufacturing coupled with our approach to employee development and support is a large reason why Pete (Yonkman) and Cook felt that Goodwill would be a great partner in this endeavor.”
Starting pay for employees with no experience is $13.00 per hour, but some positions will pay $16.00/hour.
In addition to the jobs, the facility will offer support services. Employees will have access to mental and physical health support, soft skills training and an opportunity to advance their education.
“The mere fact that this project has been developed with us and not to us, I truly believe it will be a benefit for all of us in the generations to come. We look forward to continuing this incredible partnership and watching a ripple of hope sustainably transcend across our northeast Indianapolis community,” said Ashley Gurvitz, chief operating officer and executive director of United Northeast CDC.
Gurvitz says northeast Indianapolis has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Yonkman says he believes this is a business model that can be replicated in communities across Indiana.
“The challenges of generational poverty, substance use disorder, and barriers to education confront countless communities across Indiana. If owners and leaders of companies in Indiana join us in bringing jobs and opportunity back, we believe it’s possible to rebuild the middle class in our state,” said Yonkman.
The facility will be built at the corner of Sheridan Street and 38th Street, along the proposed IndyGO Purple line. The partnership says the site was selected because residents face high rates of poverty and unemployment.
Demolition of a current building is set to begin this week. The consortium anticipates the building will be complete by the end of 2021.
“There is even a goal of engaging 100% local and minority contractors for this project,” said Gurvitz.
Goodwill says it will start hiring workers in the next couple of months. Those employees will begin work at the Goodwill Tremont Center while construction is underway on the new plant.
Yonkman explained how the partnership will help maximize the connection between business and community and to help the people they serve.