t might seem mildly incongruous, but one of the world’s biggest and most advanced machines for producing medical radioisotopes can be found off U.S. Highway 31 in a rural patch of northern Indiana. Operated by AZIsotopes in Miami County, the 14-ton, 70-megavolt “cyclotron” hurls protons at up to a third the speed of light at a chosen target material, the resulting collision producing customized isotopes employed in cutting-edge medical treatments and diagnostics.
“We make isotopes,” says CEO Wade Brooksby, “that allow radiologists to do super high-level imaging. It takes the typical error rate down from about 50% to less than 1%.”
AZIsotopes is but one example of the evolution of Indiana’s Highway 31 corridor between Indianapolis and South Bend. With a long history in agriculture, food and beverage and heavy manufacturing, it’s a region ready for change.
“We are not quite as rural as we once considered ourselves to be,” says Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority. “The potential for growth is very bright all up and down the corridor.”
The former Grissom Air Force Base, closed in 1994 and since redeveloped for civilian use as Grissom Aeroplex, serves as one of the drivers of Miami County’s aspirations. Already supporting businesses that account for more than 3,500 jobs, says Tidd, the 800-acre Grissom complex is emerging as a life sciences campus. NukeMed, a second medical isotopes company, has opened a $26 million facility next to AZIsotopes, whose ongoing investment at the Aeroplex exceeds $80 million. Brooksby believes more such neighbors are on the way.
AZIsotopes, Brooksby says, was drawn to Indiana by the state’s supply of medical engineering talent and to the Aeroplex specifically by its 12,500-ft. runway. It allows for speedy delivery of isotopes, certain of which are quick to degrade. And Brooksby expresses wonder at the welcome accorded to his fledgling operation.
“You name it,” he says, “we’ve received support across the board from local officials right up to the governor. It’s to a level we hadn’t expected and did not receive from other states.”
EV Investment Delivers a Spark
Indiana’s first EV battery facility, the product of a joint venture between Stellantis and Samsung, is likely to accelerate growth along the U.S. 31 Corridor. Targeted for a 2025 launch, the $2.5 billion investment in Kokomo is projected to create 1,400 new jobs. With a rich tradition in the region, Stellantis already is the largest employer in rural Tipton County, about half an hour south of Kokomo. Abbie Smith, Tipton’s community and economic development director, says she’s working to recruit potential suppliers for the battery plant.
“Those are really good jobs that are a staple of our economy,” Smith tells Site Selection. “We’re partners at the table, and we are actively participating in those discussions.”
Like Miami County, Tipton County belongs to both the U.S. 31 Coalition and the six-county North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council, each of which serve not strictly to foster but also to manage the region’s growth.
“We’re very proud,” Smith says, “of not only our agricultural heritage but also our way of life. This is a community that people love to live in. It’s very important for us to hold on to who we are and to have a hand in designing that growth, so that it’s not something that just happens to us.”
A Powerful Partner
Smith is a big fan of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, the wholesale electric power provider to the City of Tipton. She and Tidd both describe IMPA as a “great partner.” Headquartered in Carmel, IMPA claims a spot among Site Selection’s Top Utilities in Economic Development for 2023, announced in this issue. It’s the agency’s third straight selection to the annual list and fifth since 2017.
Dean Baldwin Painting serves major airlines at Grissom Aeroplex.
Courtesy of Miami County Economic Development Authority
“In working with site selectors,” says Smith, “IMPA is right beside us being honest about what they can do right now, what they can ramp up to and how long it will take. With that kind of partnership,” she says, “we’re much better equipped to find the right fits with developers and potential growth.”
IMPA is a member of the Indiana Power Partnership (IPP), a strategic economic development alliance formed in 2017 among the state’s gas and electric providers. Each year, the partnership promotes Indiana to national site consultants through a series of sales trips to targeted locations throughout the country. Alongside officials from IMPA, Tidd attended the most recent such event, held in June in Chicago.
“Everything from sponsoring trips, to helping us develop land that we have, to helping us identify new opportunities and just being a reliable power provider, all that makes IMPA just a great, great partner,” Tidd says.
“They know their industry very well,” says Smith, “but they’re always interested in learning. They’re great at understanding our jobs and what our communities are looking for, and then working with us to reach those mutual goals.”
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency. For more information, contact Bryan Brackemyre at 317- 575-3879 or by email at email@example.com. On the web, go to www.impa.com.