Why MN May Attract Med-Tech Jobs from Overseas

A recent report says that the cost of running a medical device production facility in the Twin Cities is competitive with other domestic locations, and there are a lot of other factors that can attract med-tech jobs.

Issues such as increased regulations will likely cause medical device companies to move jobs back to the U.S. from foreign locations-and the Twin Cities has a lot of attributes to draw them here, according to a report released earlier this month by Princeton, New Jersey-based The Boyd Company, Inc.

The study is based on the projected cost of operating a 175,000-square-foot medical device production plant with 325 workers and shipping products to a U.S. market. Among U.S. locations, San Jose, California had the highest estimated price tag: $30.7 million per year. Sioux Falls, South Dakota was the cheapest at $22.6 million.

Operating a medical device facility in the Twin Cities would cost an estimated $26.2 million a year-placing it near the middle of the pack for domestic locations.

Some international sites are cheaper to operate, like a Maquiladora border site in Mexico, which would cost about $16.8 million annually.

But Boyd forecasts that “thousands of final assembly and quality control jobs within the medical devices and supplies industry will be washing back on U.S. shores over the next decade” from China, India, and other international markets due to security issues, increased regulatory scrutiny, piracy concerns, and other issues.

Boyd predicts that where these jobs will be relocated depends on labor issues, local skill sets, state tax climates, and other factors.

The report describes the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area as “the epicenter of the U.S. medical devices and supply industry,” as it is home to major players like Medtronic, St. Jude, 3M, and many others. The report indicates that the area's large life sciences work force, mid-continent logistics, and renowned science programs at colleges like the University of Minnesota are attractive to medical technology companies looking to relocate operations.

The report points out, however, that smaller-and cheaper-areas throughout the Midwest are also attractive options, including Rochester; Madison, Wisconsin; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and a few other locations with strong life sciences industries.