Southwest Michigan is in Stryker’s DNA

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Heather Baker
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When Stryker Corporation began the search for a place to construct a $154 million research and development facility for its Instruments Division, it had to look no further than the home of its birth in Southwest Michigan.

On January 27, 2020, several hundred corporate and community leaders celebrated in tandem as the ribbon was cut in celebration of the finished building that now sits on 75 acres of land on Portage Road in Portage, Michigan.

It’s been a little over two years since the decision was made to break ground. Major improvements to the selected site and surrounding areas include road updates, connections to the city of Portage’s trail system, a 485,000-square-foot facility that houses the division’s R&D commercial and leadership teams, and a customer experience center with a full operational operating room where surgeons can work with Stryker teams to develop the next generation of medical devices.

The completed project can be described as visible, flexible, energetic, engaged, adaptable, and connected. Those were the words used over and over by corporate leaders to define it. And there was one more thing: “Last, but certainly not least, it brings together over 1,100 Portage and Kalamazoo employees into one building from five different facilities. The energy that has brought is phenomenal.” says Dylan Crotty, President, Instruments Division, Stryker.

The road to completion took a bit of time. Actually, it started ten years ago recounted Spencer Stiles, Group President, Orthopaedics and Spine, Stryker. That’s when Stiles sat down at the kitchen table in the home of the division’s then president, Jim Heath. Heath gave Stiles the direction to “build something that could withstand the test of time, be something we could be proud of, yet showed our humility, and was something that ultimately drove the values of the company.”

Stiles believes Stryker achieved its goal. The finished product pulls people out of their offices, gets them to connect, gets them to share, gets them to trust, and gets them to collaborate. “[It’s a place where] we’re accountable today, [where we’ll be] accountable for the next ten years, and where we [can] be accountable in the next ten years,” he says.

The company’s decision to locate in Portage was one built on legacy. Portage Mayor Patricia Randall explained that the partnership between Portage and Stryker has spanned decades and has produced big benefits for both partners. Randall says, “Stryker is the city’s largest employer with nearly 2,600 full-time jobs which is 11 percent of our entire workforce. 966 jobs were retained with this project and 105 are now coming. Stryker Corporation holds the second highest taxable assessed value in the city of Portage and has brought a number of business to Portage and stayed.”

Randall further explains that the economic impact on the city by Stryker employees includes the purchase of homes to support market values and neighborhoods and the enrollment of employees’ children as students in the public school system. As citizens, Stryker employees have endorsed millages to build better schools and hire more teachers. They also support Portage’s commercial corridors, restaurants, and vast networks of trails and parks.

“The ripple effect created when Stryker was founded in 1941 is now a wave of good fortune felt here in our city, our region, our county, our state, and across the world,” concludes Randall.

In celebration of this ripple effect, Randall declared January 27, 2020 to be Stryker Day in Portage and presented Stryker Chairman Kevin Lobo with a key to the city.

Lobo describes the completed project as “defying the odds because the company is growing faster as we get larger.” He confirmed that the company (NYSE: SYK) has completed its fortieth consecutive year of sales growth—a feat no other publicly traded company can claim.

“We’re proud to have our corporate office and two flagship divisions—instruments and medical—cultural beacons of our global expansive organization of 40,000 people around the world to be anchored here,” says Lobo.

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