SHINE officials meet their potential neighbors

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012
— The questions Greg Piefer answered about his company's plan to build a medical isotope production plant on Janesville's south side were ones he has fielded many times.

It was Tuesday night's setting for those questions, however, that was anything but routine.

Piefer, founder and chief executive officer of SHINE Medical Technologies, wasn't in a regulator's office or appearing before the Janesville City Council.

Instead, he and several of his staff were at Kealy's Airport Kafe, where they sat informally and explained the company's planned operation to south-side neighbors who ate pie and drank coffee.

Tuesday's session was a part of the company's ongoing effort to explain itself to the community and get to know its members and their concerns.

SHINE plans to build an $80 million production facility on the city's south side that would initially make molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 different diagnostic imaging procedures that are performed more than 50,000 times each day in the United States.

In February, the city approved a $9 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.

Piefer did create somewhat of a buzz Tuesday night—at least with Janesville Economic Development Director Vic Grassman—when he said the company would need at least 150 employees to operate the plant when it opens in late 2014 or early 2015.

Pay ranges are expected to be $50,000 to $60,000 per year

SHINE is now moving down what can be a long and tedious regulatory path.

In Rock County, it could join another medical isotope maker, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which plans to build a $194 million plant in Beloit and create more than 150 jobs by 2016.

SHINE and NorthStar are two of just three U.S. companies supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration as it pushes for a more reliable and diverse supply of Mo-99, which is primarily used for detecting heart disease and determining stages of cancer progression.

Historically, most Mo-99 used in the United States has been produced in Canada and the Netherlands using highly enriched uranium in high power research reactors. Both the Canadian and Netherlands reactors are operating beyond their licensed lives, and unscheduled shutdowns of the reactors in 2009 and 2010 caused worldwide shortages that delayed or canceled millions of medical procedures.

Piefer said SHINE's production facility would be about 50,000 square feet and sit on an 84-acre parcel the city bought and annexed across Highway 51 from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

Last updated: 8:10 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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