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Janesville among finalists for business that could create 100 jobs

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Catherine W. Idzerda
June 8, 2011
— We’re in the running.

Janesville, Chippewa Falls and Stevens Point are being considered for a business that would create 100 jobs with the possibility of more in the future.


Greg Piefer, CEO of SHINE Medical Technologies, confirmed Tuesday that he had been in negotiations with Janesville officials.


“Janesville is a possibility,” Piefer said. “We’ve been very impressed by Janesville, by the city leadership.”


Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt said the city is pursuing SHINE Medical.


“The city council and I believe that this would be an excellent company to have located in Janesville,” he said.


Blackhawk Technical College is part of the attraction for company officials, Piefer said.


The technical college could help with the specialized training needed for what would be essentially high-tech manufacturing jobs.


SHINE Medical hopes to produce molybdenum-99, an isotope needed for detecting heart disease and staging cancer.


Currently, the isotope is made by taking a piece of highly enriched uranium and placing it near a nuclear reactor. The process creates an exchange of neutrons, and the neutrons make the needed isotopes.


“Our process does it without a reactor,” Piefer said.


The reactor process creates unusable byproducts, and the new process “reduces the potential threat and nuclear footprint associated with current production methods,” according to a news release.


Salaries could be in the $50,000 to $60,000 range.


“Workers need to be very reliable and very well trained—we’re going to be holding them to a very high standard,” Piefer said. “The way to do that is to pay them well.”


SHINE has been working with a variety of state and national agencies, including the National Nuclear Security Administration; UW-Madison; Morgridge Institute for Research, a nonprofit biomedical research institute; Los Alamos National Labs; the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, better known as WARF.


Federal agencies and labs are interested in any research that can be used to produce the medical isotopes without using highly enriched uranium, according to the news release.


Piefer’s business is similar to that of NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, a company that is considering two locations to build a high-tech facility. One of those locations is in Rock County.


In September, the group led by SHINE and the Morgridge Institute signed a $500,000 cooperative agreement from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative to advance the technology. Piefer’s company also recently raised $11 million in venture capitol.


Those technical and investment milestones will help the business move forward and obtain federal matching funds.


Company officials will make a decision about the plant’s location sometime this summer, Piefer said. Manufacturing would start in 2014.



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