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From Site Selection magazine, April 2011

Sustained Growth

Utah’s robust medical device
sector continues to expand.

This rendering depicts the expansion of Merit Medical Systems’ campus in South Jordan, Utah.
Images courtesy of Merit Medical Systems

tah is one of several states known for a vibrant medical device sector. There are approximately 120 companies in the sector, and many export their products globally. Here's a look at some of the companies with major expansions in the works.

Utah-based Merit Medical Systems, a manufacturer of disposable medical devices, has two major expansion projects under way that are progressing toward 2012 completion dates. One is at the company's home base of South Jordan, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. The other is at Merit's complex in Galway, Ireland, which will become the company's European center of operations. Merit, which employs more than 2,000 worldwide, will add 800 employees with the two expansions. Merit's products are primarily used in cardiology, radiology and gastroenterology.

Merit's South Jordan campus is growing by 245,000 sq. ft. (22,760 sq. m.), and will add 700 jobs over the next five to 10 years. The new facility will include clean-room space, a warehouse and administrative space. When complete, the addition will bring Merit's total space in South Jordan to more than 700,000 sq. ft. (65,030 sq. m.). The new hires will eventually generate a $27-million payroll increase for the company.

"Our new production building is under construction and will be completed by December 2012," says George Frioux, Merit's vice president of business development. "We're also adding a 725-stall parking facility, which we started on first and which should be completed in September."

Merit established operations in Galway in 1994, manufacturing guidewires and inflation devices that are used in hospitals worldwide. The company is now investing €6.7 million (US$9.7 million). Frioux says the expansion will add 75,000 sq. ft. (6,967 sq. m.) of space. The expansion will involve Merit entering into the surgical pre-pack business in Europe, and will establish Galway as the European center of Merit's operations.

"We have run out of space at our facility in Galway, and have bought a 5.5-acre [2.2-hectare] parcel across the street," Frioux says. "It should be finished by February of 2012."

When the project was announced in 2010, Fred P. Lampropoulos, Merit's chairman and CEO, said the company looked at several locations in Europe before deciding to expand in Galway.

"The success of Merit's established operation in Ireland and the skill set of the existing Irish management team made Ireland Merit's location of choice," Lampropoulos said.

Last September Merit completed the acquisition of BioSphere Medical, Inc., a leading developer and marketer of embolotherapeutic products for the treatment of uterine fibroids, hypervascularized tumors and arteriovenous malformations. The company said it intends to maintain BioSphere's manufacturing facility in France and a scaled-down office in Massachusetts.

Merit also operates facilities in Salt Lake City; Angleton, Texas; Richmond, Va.; Maastricht and Venlo, The Netherlands; Paris; and Copenhagen.

Edwards and Nelson Also Thriving

Edwards Lifesciences Corp., a specialist in heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring, opened a new 300,000-sq.-ft. (27,870-sq.-m.) facility in Draper, Utah, just southeast of South Jordan, last October. The company says the new building will enable it to significantly expand its manufacturing and development capabilities, and accommodate its plans for growth. The company moved its operations and 250 employees from its previous facility in Midvale, Utah.

"We look forward to providing a rewarding environment in which our employees can thrive in producing technologies to address the unmet needs of clinicians and their patients suffering from cardiovascular disease and critical illnesses," said Michael A. Mussallem, chairman and CEO of Edwards Lifesciences. "To help fulfill this mission, we plan to hire up to 1,000 new employees at this new center in the coming years."

Nelson Laboratories, which is based in Salt Lake City, opened a new 50,000-sq.-ft. (4,645-sq.-m.) facility in 2010, and expects to hire an additional 300 employees over the next decade. Nelson provides microbiology testing services for the medical device, pharmaceutical, and natural product industries.

Merit Medical Systems will open an expanded facility in Galway, Ireland, in 2012.

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