By: Mike Verespej
August 31, 2012
CANTON, ILL. (Aug. 31, 2:25 p.m. ET) — Privately owned medical-device manufacturer Cook Medical Inc. has opened a $19 million tubing plant in Canton.
The plant may be the firm’s last new U.S. manufacturing facility — at least in the near term — since the Bloomington, Ind., company said it will focus on future growth overseas because of the pending 2.3 percent medical-device excise tax.
At the plant’s grand opening Aug. 31, Cook Medical President Kem Hawkins said the 60,000-square-foot plant will employ 60 and manufacture polytetrafluoroethylene tubing, according to a news release. The 49-year-old company uses the tubing in the 16,000 different medical devices that it manufactures.
A sister plant in Canton, which opened two years ago at a cost of $20 million, employs more than 100 skilled workers making angiographic catheters. The two plants, which were built with future expansion in mind, are expected to employ more than 350, eventually.
Canton was the boyhood home of late Cook Group Inc. founder Bill Cook, who wanted to help revive his hometown, which took a severe economic hit nearly 30 years ago when International Harvester closed a plant that employed 3,000.
“We are thrilled to open Cook Polymer Technology Canton, which will provide another 60 jobs to the people of Canton and add a significant economic boost to this small community” of roughly 15,000 people, Hawkins said.
“At Cook, we have always believed in reinvesting revenues earned here and abroad in new manufacturing facilities that create jobs for people,” said Hawkins, who is also president of Cook Group. “Over nearly 50 years, Cook has reinvested more than $1.5 billion in plants across the U.S. and in key facilities overseas that now employ 10,000 people. And we hope circumstances will allow us to continue that tradition.”
However, the company said in late July that it will concentrate future manufacturing plant investments overseas. It already has scrapped plans to open five more medical manufacturing plants in the Midwest over the next five years — similar in size to the plants in Canton — because of the medical-device excise tax, which goes into effect in January.
Cook Medical estimates that tax, part of the 2010 health-care reform plan known as Obamacare, will cost the company between $20 million and $30 million a year. Its late founder Bill Cook estimated the tax would cost the company 1,000 jobs. Cook died April 15, 2011.
Currently, Cook Group has production facilities in Ireland, Denmark and Australia, in addition to its U.S. plants.
At the news conference, Canton Mayor Kevin Meade said he is amazed at the positive economic impact the two Cook plants are having on the community.
“It doesn’t take a huge plant with thousands of jobs to make a real impact. Even a few-hundred good jobs are enough to help a town the size of Canton turn itself around,” he said.
Since Cook opened its first facility in Canton, Meade noted that the local hospital has invested more than $40 million in a new clinic and in upgrades to its existing facilities.
Cook Group also has invested more than $15 million in Canton’s downtown square, building a new 32-room hotel and buying and improving a shopping mall and other properties.
In addition, a number of new retail stores have opened and local businesses have been able to expand, Meade said. And, after years of no new housing permits, he said the city also has experienced a veritable housing boom as a new 42-unit apartment complex is under construction, and permits have been issued for construction of 16 homes.
“The good-paying jobs created with this new investment,” added U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill,, “will have a ripple effect in terms of economic activity far outside the doors of its facilities, as new workers make home improvements they’ve postponed, buy meals and clothing, and contribute to the area’s economy.”
Cook is one of the largest privately held manufacturers of medical devices, with annual sales of more than $1.8 billion. It employs about 4,000 in the Bloomington area.