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Eli Lilly plots $2.1B manufacturing expansion at America’s crossroads, with 500 new hires

After socking $1 billion into a new injectables factory in North Carolina in January, Lilly is dipping back into its pocketbook for another blockbuster manufacturing expansion stateside. And this time, it’s reinvesting in its roots.

Lilly is laying out $2.1 billion to build two new manufacturing sites at LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County, Indiana, the company said Wednesday. Lilly is headquartered in the Hoosier State’s capital of Indianapolis.

The facilities are expected to broaden Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients plus new modalities like genetic medicines, the company said in a release. Specifically, the sites will help Lilly respond to heightened demand for its current and future drugs.

In discussing the upcoming facilities’ focus, Lilly trumpeted the 17 new drugs that have won approvals in the past eight years, including this month’s green light for tirzepatide, now christened Mounjaro, in Type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, Lilly expects to hire 500 new employees to staff the plants. The company currently employs more than 3,700 manufacturing workers in Indiana.

“More than 146 years after our founding, Lilly remains committed to investing and innovating in Indiana,” David Ricks, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “These new sites will add capacity in support of our growing pipeline of innovative medicines, while also creating more high-tech jobs for Hoosiers.”

Lilly’s most recent expansion in Indiana was unveiled back in 2019 and followed a series of cash outlays in research and manufacturing around Indianapolis, the company said. Those investments totaled more than $2.5 billion over five years and generated additional manufacturing jobs, too.

For its latest project in Boone County, Lilly plans to partner with several organizations, including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Lilly expects each new company role to generate “an additional four indirect jobs,” the company noted. It also estimates the project will call for about 1,500 construction jobs while the plants are being built out.

Outside its home state, Lilly has been infusing its production network with some serious cash. In late January, the company said it was pumping around 400 million euros ($445.3 million) into a new biologics ingredients plant in Limerick, Ireland.

Right after that, Lilly telegraphed the $1 billion build-out of an injectables facility in Concord, North Carolina, where it plans to recruit some 600 new hires. Construction on that plant is poised to begin in 2022 and will take several years to complete, though Lilly is already anticipating “additional future investments in manufacturing to address growth expected from potential new medicines to treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and autoimmune conditions,” the company said at the time.

The company’s homegrown investment, meanwhile, comes shortly after Lilly’s CEO laid out criticisms of the Hoosier State.

“Our education attainment in the state is not good,” Ricks said in April in a speech before The Economic Club of Indiana, as quoted by Indianapolis news outlet Wish-TV. “The ability to reskill the workforce, I think, could improve. Health, life and inclusion, overall, I think, conditions rank poorly nationally in our state. And also workforce preparedness, also related to reskilling, is a liability for us,” Ricks said.

He noted Indiana’s healthcare costs outstrip those of neighboring states, too, which makes Indiana unattractive to potential employers.

Despite the critique, Ricks has clearly put his company’s money—and 500 new jobs—where his mouth is.