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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Cook Medical Group’s new manufacturing plant is open on Indy’s east side.

Governor Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett joined the first group of 20 employees to cut the ribbon on a new plant which Hogsett calls “transformative” for the 38th Street neighborhood. Cook president Pete Yonkman says an IU study estimates the economic impact at tens of millions of dollars.

But Yonkman says the true impact of the project goes beyond dollars and cents, to creating opportunity for upward mobility. He says Cook purposely sought a location with a high minority population, high job losses, and little history of new development. The plant expects to ramp up to 100 workers by year’s end, and Yonkman says many of them have either been out of work or need a second chance after getting out of prison. Holcomb says being able to land a good-paying job after a conviction drops the rate of repeat offenders into single digits.

Cook announced plans for the plant 18 months ago. It’s expected to be an anchor for further development. The new IndyGo Purple Line will serve the plant, and a Fresh Market grocery store is under construction across the parking lot from the plant, plugging one of the city’s “food deserts.” A health clinic is planned as well.

Yonkman says Cook sought input from the community on how to plan the factory in a way that would do the most good. One suggestion he says was taken to heart was to steer the construction contracts to minority-owned firms. The entire project was built by minority businesses.

Yonkman says the company hopes the plant can spark a revitalization of the community, but adds it’s not just charity work. He says Cook needs the extra manufacturing capacity, and says the plant serves both the company’s needs and those of the neighborhood.