Expansion, 280 jobs in Biomet plan

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FORT WAYNE – Biomet Inc. plans to invest $26 million in an expansion that will create about 280 new jobs, Kosciusko County officials said Friday.

An attorney for the Warsaw orthopedic device manufacturer attended the Kosciusko County Council meeting Thursday evening to request economic development area status for the affected part of the Biomet campus. It’s the first step on the path to securing a tax abatement on the project, Council President Harold Jones said late Friday.

The council approved the new designation and expects a Biomet representative to attend its Aug. 12 meeting to formally ask for the abatement, which is sure to be approved.

Biomet’s project has four components – manufacturing, distribution, technology and research and development, Jones said. Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment late Friday.

The plan is to renovate existing property and add new equipment, Jones said. The jobs will be added over a two-year period and pay more than $50,000 a year on average, he said.

“It’s just one of those success stories that everybody would like to have,” Jones said.

Warsaw, which has a population of about 12,500, is home to three of the five largest orthopedic device makers in the world – Zimmer Inc., DePuy Orthopedics Inc. and Biomet.

Biomet was acquired by a subsidiary of LVB Acquisition in September 2008 for $11.4 billion. As of last year, the company employed 6,700 worldwide.

On April 14, Biomet reported a loss of $3.1 million for its third fiscal quarter, which ended Feb. 28. The results compare to a $479 million loss for the same three months a year ago. The company reported global net sales of $670 million.

Jones has spent most of his 20 years on the council working with the orthopedics industry on its various expansion projects.

Councilman Tom Anglin said county officials knew Biomet was preparing to expand.

“It’s very good news for Warsaw, that’s for sure,” he said.

In September, the Lilly Foundation announced a $7 million grant to help Kosciusko retain its designation as the orthopedic device capital of the world.

The money supports OrthoWorx, a group seeking to plan for the educational, cultural and infrastructure needs of northeast Indiana’s orthopedics industry.

In March 2009, the Indianapolis foundation made a $20 million grant to grow Fort Wayne’s defense industry.

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