SHINE looks forward to operation, partnership in Janesville

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Jim Leute
Thursday, October 17, 2013

JANESVILLE—Greg Piefer sees a parallel between his young company and the city of Janesville.

Both are fighting through challenges to reach prosperity, he said.

In Piefer's case, SHINE Medical Technologies is battling through a gauntlet of regulatory and marketing issues to open a medical isotope production plant in Janesville, something that hasn't been done in this country since 1961.

Janesville, he said, is fighting back from the loss of its automobile factory and the economically debilitating effects of the Great Recession.

“We're a start-up company trying to do the right things, make the world a better place and make some money along the way,” Piefer said Thursday as the keynote speaker at the luncheon preceding the annual Rock Regional Business and Marketing Expo.

“We're facing issues and challenges and fighting through them, just as Janesville is doing.”

SHINE is working toward regulatory approval of a $85 million production plant that will use low-enriched uranium in a series of eight accelerators to produce molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 kinds of diagnostic imaging procedures and more than 40 million medical imaging tests each year.

The plant is expected to open in late 2016 and generate annual revenues of $200 million in 2017, Piefer said.

The company wants to fill a void expected when two other nuclear reactors that use highly enriched uranium to produce isotopes are taken out of service in 2016 and 2020. The plants in Canada and the Netherlands are the world's leading isotope suppliers.

SHINE picked Janesville over two other Wisconsin cities.

It was a difficult decision, but Piefer said he has no regrets.

“When we looked at Janesville, we saw an amazing workforce that could be retrained if needed, one with an outstanding work ethic,” Piefer said.

He also referenced the area's leadership, infrastructure and economic incentives.

The city of Janesville approved a $5 million development agreement that's contingent on the company meeting several benchmarks, including federal licensing and the creation of 125 high-paying jobs in Janesville. The package includes a city guarantee on a $4 million loan from private investors.

“We're doing this in partnership with Janesville, Rock County and the state of Wisconsin,” Piefer said. “We got tax incentives and assistance in securing loans.

“It always amazing when I read some of the comments attached to news stories about SHINE. This is a start-up company, but we get labeled as big business.”

Janesville, he said, understood the company's challenges and has worked with the company at every turn.

It's a two-way street, he said.

The company will create 150 high-paying jobs, and it will serve as an outreach tool for the community, an example of a high-tech company that can thrive outside of Madison, Piefer said.

“We'll show people that if you need a solution outside of the UW, we want it in Janesville,” he said. “Janesville is building a reputation, and the people in Madison are very aware of what's going on here.

“This region is coming alive, and we're looking forward to being a part of that.”

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