Twelve years ago George Messina met with a scientist about a new patent that would likely change how medical diagnostic testing would be done in the United States.
On Wednesday, Messina, president and CEO of NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, celebrated along with dozens of others in the groundbreaking of the new NorthStar facility in the City of Beloit’s Gateway Business District.
“We started the project 12 years ago when we were introduced to a new technology that we thought was pretty cool,” Messina said.
The new technology involved a non-uranium based method to extract isotopes needed for medical diagnostic imaging. Currently, all isotopes used in diagnostic testing uses uranium and is all produced outside the United States. NorthStar hopes to become the first company to produce the product domestically and without uranium and the toxic waste it produces.
NorthStar plans to start with a 50,000-square-foot building that will house its headquarters and be used as a support facility for its other plant in Missouri. That would be the first of three phases of construction in Beloit. This first phase is expected to be completed this year, and NorthStar will move its headquarters to Beloit before the end of the year, Messina said. He added the company plans to build a facility that will target solutions and treatments for HIV and cancer.
“We expect over the next six to eight years there will be over 200,000 square feet of space built on this particular piece of property,” Messina said. “We are all excited about this first step. We are proud of the contribution our process will have towards economic development in Beloit and Rock County, and we are proud of the solution we are providing to the medical community.”
Messina thanked several people in getting the company to where it is today including Diane Hendricks, owner of Hendricks Holding Company, and NorthStar’s lead investor.
Hendricks told the crowd Messina came to her four years ago needing advice on where to get the funding for the project.
“It wasn’t, ‘Write a check and bring it to Beloit,’” Hendricks said of her conversation with Messina. “Everything evolves. I bought into his dream. And it wasn’t just a dream, but a goal.”
Hendricks said the process has taken a long time, but she knew the City of Beloit was the right location for this type of project.
“It’s been a challenging four years,” she said. “At times you have to take steps backwards to go forward, but that’s life. We’ve arrived at another big point.”
Reed Hall, CEO and secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said the project is a major development for Rock County and Beloit.
“Beloit is in a renaissance,” Hall said. “I think this is just one more chapter in that renaissance.”
Hall said the project will bring high paying jobs to the area furthering more economic activity in Rock County and the Stateline Area.
“The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is in charge of the economic development of the state,” he said. “We concentrate on job creation in start ups, early investments and nourishing of existing businesses where we can. I think this project fits somewhere in between.”
City Manager Larry Arft welcomed Messina and the NorthStar company to the city during the ceremony as well. He also thanked the city council for supporting the project.
“These public private partnerships don’t happen without the support of council,” he said. “We are very proud and happy you chose Beloit.”
In June, the city and NorthStar amended the development agreement between the two to reflect the changes in the project. The city has agreed to rebate 35 percent of property taxes paid by NorthStar for the next 9 years called Direct Developer Incentive Payments.
Along with adding in the different phases, the agreement also lists job creation benchmarks in order to continue receiving incentive payments. At least 12 full- time jobs will be created this year, the agreement says. By 2015 an additional 20 jobs will be created, 60 employees will be working at the facility by 2016, 100 employees by 2017 and 165 by the end of 2018.