MC Shell Building

Jim Tidd shows off the building that Miami County has finished construction on, a $2.8 million shell building that they are now looking for a business to move into on April 24, 2017. Michael Lechner from E & B Pavng paints the stripes for the loading dock. Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

BUNKER HILL – An Arizona manufacturer has been named as the company that will move into a Miami County shell building and invest over $44 million to house a high-tech medical facility that officials say will employ around 40 people.

Arizona Isotopes Research Corp. (AZI) is a radionuclide manufacturer and is constructing a state-of-the-art isotope production and scientific research facility in the building located along U.S. 31 at 7796 South Innovation Way, near Grissom Air Reserve Base.

The company’s core mission is to improve disease imaging and to destroy diseased or infected cells, according to a release.

Hilo Property Development first announced the plan in July to purchase the facility, along with 20 acres of land, for $2.775 million during a meeting of the Miami County Council, but the medical company that would occupy the building wasn’t announced until last week.

Now, state officials say AZI is investing $44.5 million to transform the 55,000-square-foot shell building into a new production and research facility producing medical isotopes used in cardiovascular infusions, heart or circulatory imaging and prostate cancer treatments.

The company will expand the existing building by 30,000 square feet to create space for AZI’s 280,000-pound cyclotron machine that produces the isotopes. Construction is now underway and expected to be complete by September 2020. AZI plans to begin hiring for various positions mid-2020.

AZI President Greg Brooksby said the company’s mission at the facility is to deliver high-level diagnostic imaging and therapeutic treatment isotopes by producing a broad range of isotopes that are either currently in short supply or have a good chance of becoming critical shortages.

The company was founded in 2017 and employs a team of management, technical, legal and business professionals.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said in a previous interview that the building made a good fit for the company because it could be expanded easily, had additional acreage, is close to major highways and has access to the runway at Grissom Air Reserve Base.

The company also liked the fact that the building is close to major universities such as Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame universities, to recruit research-and-development talent and help advance technology for medical isotope production.

AZI joins more than 1,750 companies contributing to the state’s growing life sciences industry. Indiana is the second largest exporter of life sciences products in the U.S. and had $10.2 billion in total exports in 2018, according to BioCrossroads and the Indiana Business Research Center.

AZI said it will hire engineers, scientific chemists and other positions over the next two years that will have an average wage of $49.45 an hour and an annual payroll averaging $4.11 million.

The move comes after the Miami County council approved $2.75 million in funding to build the shell building in 2015 after learning the county didn’t have any buildings available to attract new businesses.

The Miami County Council in July approved an ordinance giving a 70% reimbursement on real property taxes paid by AZI through a tax-increment-financing district for 10 years. The company also received a 70% tax abatement on personal property taxes for 10 years.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation also offered the company up to $1 million in conditional tax credits that it can tap into once Hoosiers are hired at the facility.

John Brown, a consultant who works with the development company, told the council once the cyclotron machine inside the facility is up and running, it will produce a small amount of radioactive material that will be shipped outside the state to be disposed.

“All things considered, this is considered very low-level radiation,” he said.

The property developer said in July the medical company is now looking and installing two other isotope facilities somewhere in the U.S., and is considering building those by the facility near Grissom to create a single company campus.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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