Elanco to shift work to FD plant

Cattle, swine vaccines to be added

Elanco U.S. Inc. will move more of its animal vaccine production to its Fort Dodge plant, company officials announced Thursday.

The company plans to close its facility in Larchwood and shift the manufacturing of cattle and swine vaccines from there to Fort Dodge by the end of 2019.

If that move will yield more jobs in Fort Dodge or more investment in the local plant remains unknown, however.

“At this point, I can’t specifically say if there will be more jobs created,” company spokeswoman Betsy Vilwock Bowman said Thursday afternoon.

“At this point, further investment is still being evaluated,” she added.

Even without an influx of new jobs and capital investment, Thursday’s announcement is welcome news for the future of the site, according to Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

“Obviously, I think it increases the viability of the plant by making it a more diverse plant,” he said. “Clearly, this is good news.”

The Elanco U.S. Inc. plant at 800 Fifth St. N.W. employs 445 people who make vaccines for cats and dogs. The company is one of the largest employers in Webster County.

The company bought the plant in early 2016 from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. The site was previously owned by Pfizer Inc. and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

In a written statement, company leaders said the Larchwood plant will no longer be used and its operations will move to Fort Dodge. The move affects 134 employees in Larchwood.

Elanco U.S. Inc. is seeking a buyer for the Larchwood site.

Vilwock Bowman said 27 “product families” are made there.

Plautz said he believes there’s a possibility that some of those product lines will be sold.

“Whatever they do not sell to another company will be coming here,” he said.

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich welcomed the announcement.

“It is a positive thing for us,” he said.

He described the local plant as a “premier facility.”

Bemrich said the animal pharmaceutical industry has become a highly competitive one built around a series of advanced facilities.

“Fort Dodge is just that type of location,” he said.

Elanco U.S. Inc. is based in Greenfield, Indiana. It is a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co.