Those were the days: Health care products were made by Miles Inc. and Bayer Corp. in their Elkhart faclities. In addition to the products shown, the company made One-A-Day, Chocks and Flintstones vitamins locally.
Those were the days: Health care products were made by Miles Inc. and Bayer Corp. in their Elkhart faclities. In addition to the products shown, the company made One-A-Day, Chocks and Flintstones vitamins locally.

ELKHART -- Where once the Elkhart facilities of Bayer Corp. boasted 2,000 workers and made $900 million in products annually, including Alka-Seltzer, Flintstones vitamins, One-A-Day vitamins, Bactine and a variety of glucose-monitoring items, the north campus will be empty by the end of 2006.

Bayer officials announced Wednesday the Diabetes Care headquarters is moving from Elkhart to Tarrytown, N.Y. Of the 160 positions, 100 will be moved to New York while the remaining 60 will be eliminated.

Company spokeswoman Marianne Flanagan would not elaborate on the reasons for the consolidation, pointing instead to a press release which stated: "The move is being made to align and focus all functional disciplines on customers needs and market innovation, to increase Diabetes Care's competitiveness and speed its return to a category leadership position."

The move of the diabetes headquarters will begin at the first of the year and continue through much of 2006. The Elkhart division contains a research and development department, human resources office and global marketing office, as well as the office of the president.

Mayor Dave Miller, told of the relocation on Tuesday, said the announcement is certainly not the kind of news any community wants to hear but it "doesn't come as a complete surprise."

He said he remains optimistic and pointed to 1999, when Bayer announced it was moving the Consumer Care Division out of Elkhart. As a result, 500 workers lost their jobs and a 933,000-square-foot building was left vacant.

That building is now occupied by Feed The Children, which brought a main distribution center and telephone call center to Elkhart.

"Elkhart is certainly resilient, entrepreneurial and flexible," Miller said. "I look forward to seeing how we're going to make the best of this situation."

Bayer still will have a presence in Elkhart, with a total of 200 employees. As a part of the Diabetes Care move, the Diagnostics division and its 50 employees will be moved from the north campus to the Bayer facility on Middlebury Street. The administrative offices will stay at the building on Michigan Street.

The 600 employees at the Bayer facility in Mishawaka will remain there.

Tarrytown, on the banks of the Hudson River, just north of New York City, is home to about 700 Bayer employees spread among the Diagnostics headquarters, Diabetes Care of North America and Bayer HealthCare LLC.

Since Miles Inc. changed its name to Bayer Corp. in 1995, a steady stream of divisions and employees has trickled out of Elkhart.

For 26 years, the company provided Lorna Muncie of Elkhart with a job she loved. She started in 1966 when the company was still Miles Laboratories but she noticed a change when Miles was acquired by Bayer AG of Leverkusen, Germany, in 1978.

"Until it was sold, it was a wonderful place to work and after that, you became a number and a dollar sign," she said.

The move of the Diabetes Care headquarters will leave empty two buildings with a combined space of 200,000 square feet. Wayne Kramer, community affairs director for Mayor Miller, said local government leaders and Bayer officials will meet in about two weeks to discuss the future of the buildings.

"I'm optimistic we'll be able to come to some agreement about the property and put it to good use for the citizens of Elkhart," Kramer said.

Once Bayer's entire north campus is empty, Miller said the city might be better able to lure a technology business to anchor and invest in a proposed tech park at the site.

"This actually gives us a state-of-the-art research center that will be attractive to a growing company," Miller said.

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