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With Becton Dickinson investing $200 million in its Nebraska plants in Columbus, Broken Bow and Holdrege (which will create about 300 jobs) it isn’t the least bit surprising that Gov. Pete Ricketts elected to make a pit stop at the city’s BD Medical east location as part of his week-long Governor’s Cup tour.

The site of his stop is currently undergoing the massive, $60 million add-on of a flagship plastic injection molding manufacturing facility that will reportedly become one of the largest and most sophisticated plastic molding plants in the world.

In March, Nebraska won its third straight Governor’s Cup award, presented by “Site Selection” magazine and given to the state that achieved the most economic development projects per capita in the nation.

With BD Medical east’s new build comes the addition of more than 100 jobs, and the multi-million dollar investment has created several high-paying positions at the east and west facilities.

“In Columbus alone - between the three sites in Columbus - since we announced our economic development activities, we’ve added 162 new jobs to Columbus," said Laurie Reagan, plant manager of the new 69,000-square-foot facility scheduled to open in 2021. “And of those jobs, 30 of the jobs have an annual salary that is at least twice the median income of the area.”

Ricketts said that BD is a great example of a company moving forward and seizing opportunities that benefits its employees, community and state. The Governor’s Cup, he said, is a reflection of that hard work put in by so many businesses, state officials and local community leaders.

“It represents economic development in our state,” the governor said, addressing a group gathered inside of an on-site conference room. “And we are here at BD to say ‘thank you’ for your investment in Nebraska. To say thanks to the folks at Becton Dickinson for investing in our state and creating those job opportunities.

“Because that is what economic development is, it’s all about creating jobs. When companies like BD invest here in our state, it creates jobs.”

After a brief speech, the governor was led to the backside of the plant where a sizable amount of construction is underway. Draped in front of the open face of the add-on was a 40-foot-long American flag, serving as an ideal backdrop for a few pictures to be snapped of Ricketts and BD Medical representatives.

“We are on track with the schedule even though there was some delay with the flooding that happened throughout the region,” Reagan said, during an interview with The Telegram. “We are still on track to bring in our machines in October … Throughout July they (construction teams) are working on getting the building weather-tight so it’s not impacted by snow and rain and wind.

“We are getting the roof and the exterior structure done, and also getting some concrete poured.”

Sixty-six plastic molding machines are being shipped to the states by German and Japanese manufacturers. A few are already onsite and some work is being completed.

“We are already running production in the first-phase area, but the full facility won’t be open until fiscal year 2021,” Reagan said. “Right now we are bringing in molds, validating them and running annual quantities for those specific molds. We have two molds that are validated and running now."

The new facility will specialize in producing plastic components like syringe caps, plunger rods and backstops, luer connectors, vials and tubes. Those materials, Reagan said, will help refine the overall BD Medical operation.

“We are still working on all the molds that we are bringing in, but we are basically working on internalizing a lot of the BD production,” she said. “We are working on molds that are running on the outside right now and bringing them internal to BD. So, we will only be producing for other BD sites or components that go directly to customers.”

Reagan said it was nice being recognized by Ricketts for the company’s efforts. She noted that state and local entities have played a role in helping the company reach this level of success.

“The state has been very easy to work with and they have helped us tremendously with our different initiatives that we are doing to expand our facility,” she said. “So we are working closely with the state and Central Community College, and they have helped to ensure that we have projects like this in Nebraska. They have been great to work with."

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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