Total orthopedic investment could far exceed $30 million, officials hope

Robert Vitoux, chief executive officer with OrthoWorx, poses for a photo inside his offices on the third floor of Warsaw City Hall. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW —  Three local officials say they believe there’s a good chance the $30 million set aside by the state to bolster the local orthopedic industry could be leveraged to attract much, much more money.

The $30 million is being made available to OrthoWorx, a group dedicated to boosting the local orthopedics industry which will work to develop various proposals geared toward retaining and attracting workers into the medical device field.

The money won’t be available until July 2024.

In the meantime, OrthoWorx and other entities will be trying to determine what kind of projects it could entail.

The fact that quality-of-life projects are part of the plan, opens the door to a wide variety of potential uses, officials say.

The $30 million represents the biggest infusion OrthoWorx has ever had since it was established more than a dozen years ago

Officials now intend to parlay that into much more by showing other potential funding sources that they are legitimately positioned to do much more.

“We’re going to be going through every resource that we think is possible to try and use my term parlay this money into something bigger,” said Robert Vitoux, chief executive officer with OrthoWorx.

“We want it to be a multiple of 30 million when it’s all said and done. Many multiples, frankly,” he said.

Two state lawmakers – State Sen. Ryan Mishler, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and State Rep. Craig Snow of Warsaw, who pursued the funding – also echoed that approach.

Mishler said he thinks the proposals brought forth to the state budget committee could far exceed the $30 million total.

“We like to see matching funds for investment … the higher the match the better for the community because you’re getting more investment,” Mishler said.

Snow said he planned to talk with US Sen. Todd Young about combining federal money with state money.

Vitoux said they expect to form an executive oversight committee and will work with other groups and committees to develop a plan on how best to use the money.

He said he’s received numerous calls, emails and texts from people offering ideas on how the money could be used.

“There’s just going to be a lot of heavy lifting — a lot of heavy brainstorming — that goes on to think about how we deploy these dollars in the most effective manner to get the greatest return for the industry in our community,” Vitoux said.

“Be assured, we are not going to waste any time in trying to get those plans pulled together and make sure that soon as that comes that we can gain access to those dollars,” he said.

Once proposals are drafted by OrthoWorx, Mishler said they’ll need to be approved by a state budget committee consisting of four lawmakers from both parties and the budget director for the governor’s office.

Mishler said it would be premature to suggest what types of projects could end up being part of the plan

Two weeks ago, Rep. Snow announced the $30 million appropriation during an interview with News Now Warsaw during which he also said $2 million to $3 million had also been set aside for Warsaw Municipal Airport for a taxi lane project.

Mishler said Friday that what’s being considered for orthopedics won’t end up being channeled to the Warsaw airport.