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Bloomington's old Thomson plant reopens with new owner

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Kris Kirschner/Eyewitness News

Bloomington, Oct. 28 - In its heyday, Bloomington's Thomson Conumer Electronics plant on South Rogers Street employed thousands of Hoosiers as the world's largest assembler of color televisions.

The future of the facility is still manufacturing, but the product, once RCA, is now DNA.

"We firmly believe this is an opportunity to have a mecca that could duplicate something like California. San Diego does with research, we can do with production and development," says Cook Pharmica President Jerry Arthur.

Friday was a celebration in Bloomington to welcome Cook Pharmica and a $70 million renovation to the old Thomson plant.

While still a home for manufacturing, the facility now houses state-of-the-art bio reactors and quality control laboratories.

Roger Brunkow believes, "This could be a core for bringing high-tech, bio-tech manufacturing in Indiana."

Cook Pharmica will grow cell cultures for biotech and biopharmaceutical companies, allowing them to test and manufacture their discoveries. It also allows for the growth of life sciences in Indiana.

Seven years ago, the Thomson RCA plant shut down, leaving hundreds out of work and no future for an empty plant.

Former RCA employee Rick Naftzger, who now manages the facility for Cook, is impressed by the changes. "The area got quiet. To see folks back in with smiles on their faces, knowing there's a future, is fantastic."

Eventually Cook Pharmica will employ several hundred employees. But its real contribution may be manufacturing a high-tech future for the state of Indiana.

Thirty-five percent of the pharmaceuticals produced are created through biotechnology, that's expect to jump to 70 percent in the next seven years.

Some manufacturing could begin at Cook Pharmica by late next year.

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