Biohealth companies drawing on skilled labor pool as they expand in Wisconsin

WisBiz-Biohealth-summit-graphicBiohealth companies in south central Wisconsin are drawing on the region’s growing pool of skilled talent as they expand.

Speaking yesterday during the Wisconsin Biohealth Summit hosted by BioForward Wisconsin in Madison, panelists acknowledged the workforce challenges facing most industries in Wisconsin. But they said the influence of UW-Madison and established industry leaders in the region has helped them surmount this obstacle.

“Madison is a really unique place,” said Lori Aschenbrenner, director of drug development and regional strategy for Labcorp, which has a flagship campus in the city. “It is a place where you have a university, you have places like Epic, you have a lot of technology within a small area — that does facilitate attracting the top talent.”

The company employs about 1,200 people at its Madison site, which is focused on drug development research, testing for efficacy and safety, environmental risk assessments and more.

Another nearby business involved in research and development, MilliporeSigma, last year opened a $65 million expansion to its operations in Verona. David Goeddel, the company’s R&D director for active pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs, yesterday attributed that decision in part to the attractive labor market.

The facility now produces 26 different commercial APIs, serving a wide array of customers including manufacturers producing cancer drugs. Goeddel said it’s “focused on a few different technology areas, but most of them are really inside the state, so it’s a pretty strong industry.”

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