St. Jude Plans Headquarters Expansion in Twin Cities Area

Other healthcare and medical firms expand in Minneapolis area

Anderson typically tries to find clients spots with adjacent vacant space where a lease with first rights to expand can be negotiated. In some cases, air-conditioned warehouse space can be built out to suit a client's needs, she said.

Anderson's clients include Micromedics, which makes surgical trays, devices used in ear and nose surgery, biomaterial applicators and over-the-counter products for treating ear problems.

President Curt Miller said the company, which has about 70 employees, has more than doubled its space to about 30,000 square feet in the past three years.

Miller said the company will likely be adding more space soon to accommodate its recent rapid growth. Revenue has increased at an average rate of 25 percent for the last six years and by 40 percent the last year and a half, he said.

In general, company requirements for sophisticated heating, cooling and air filtration systems make space for med-tech production considerably more expensive than other types of manufacturing space, Anderson said.

Twin Cities architect Roger Christensen agrees that building research and manufacturing space for med-tech companies poses unique challenges.

His firm is overseeing a 110,000-square-foot expansion of Boston Scientific's Weaver Lake campus in Maple Grove. The addition, which includes 20,000 square feet of lab space, is expected to be complete early next year.

"All the mechanical systems are much more intense," Christensen said. "There are issues like how tight certain rooms must sealed to prevent contamination, how exhaust systems will work in places where chemicals are mixed."

He estimates building costs of medical manufacturing facilities are 35 to 65 percent higher than standard nonmedical manufacturing plants.

In addition to technical considerations, medical manufacturers increasingly are asking for more informal meeting space, where scientists and engineers can discuss and work on projects, Christensen said.

"These companies know the value of collaboration, whether it be a meeting room or even a small lounge where employees can sit down and talk and work together," he said.

Susan Feyder -- 612-673-1723 --

Copyright (c) 2007, Star Tribune, Minneapolis Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.