To The Point
An Israeli company is bringing 200 new jobs to Port Huron.
Special to the Jewish News
ow did an Israeli syringe
wind up in Port Huron,
Mich., the maritime capi-
tal of the Great Lakes?
The firm's CEO is still not exactly
sure, but he's pleased. Port Huron and
Michigan officials who played instru-
mental roles in the effort — including
a state executive who is Jewish — think
it's highly unusual, but they're pleased.
And Port Huron residents are happy
because the move is expected to create
about 200 new jobs.
Dispomedic 2000 Ltd., a medical
goods manufacturer based in Israel,
selected Port Huron as the home of its
first U.S. production plant. Early next
year, the firm will start producing high-
technology syringes in a 60,000-square-
foot building, a former plastics plant, at
a Port Huron industrial site.
Dispomedic is spending about $9 mil-
lion on renovations and machinery.
Larry Gormezano of West
Bloomfield, manager of the Business
Development Division in the southeast
Michigan office of the Michigan
Economic Development Corp.
(MEDC), attributes the move to some
He explained, "We're always looking
to either keep firms in Michigan or
attract outside companies to the state.
In this case, we just did some 'cold-
spearing,' making phone calls to com-
panies anywhere to see if they would be
interested in moving into the state."
Gormezano, an Orthodox Jew,
admitted it is unusual for an Israeli
firm to settle in a largely gentile city.
Port Huron's population is about
32,000, and city and St. Clair County
officials "have no idea" how many
Jewish families live there. The area is
not included in the 2002 American
Jewish Year Book's list of communities
with 100 or more Jews.
"But it doesn't make any difference
— a production plant is a plant, and a
job is a job," said Barry Berler, presi-
dent and CEO of Dispomedic 2000
Ltd. (the 2000 stands for the year the
firm formed its safety division, to make
syringes specifically). "We were glad to
hear from the MEDC and the
• t'§....4.1, "
Economic Development Alliance of St.
Clair County. They helped get us local
bank financing and gave us much sup-
'After visiting other sites in the U.S.,
then going to Port Huron to inspect
the building, we realized the city is the
place for us. The people have been
wonderful to us; it's just a perfect
Helping lure Dispomedic to Port
Huron was $1.6 million in tax abate-
ments from the city and the state. "It
required some extra incentives, over
and above what the city usually does,"
said Doug Alexander of the St. Clair
"Doug did a great job of showing us
around and introducing us to the right
people," said Berler. "Our main consid-
erations in choosing the city were
reduced labor costs, the quality of the
work force, and access to the proper
markets, such as Canada."
Port Huron is across the St. Clair
River from Sarnia, Ont.
Jobs are extremely important to
southeastern Michigan and we have to
keep fighting for them," Gormezano
declared. "We started negotiations with
Berler in 2001 and concluded them a
few months ago."
The 200 jobs will be a boost to the
Port Huron economy. The city's unem-
ployment rate is about 10 percent; the
state average is less than 7 percent.
About 80 percent of the products made
at the Port Huron plant will be sold in
Dispomedic will produce
hundreds of thousands of high-
tech syringes annually at the
"They are safety syringes with a
protective sleeve that keeps people
from using a dirty syringe again, and
the sleeve helps prevent accidents in
syringe use at hospitals and medical
offices," said Berler."
Added Gormezano, "It brings a new
product into Michigan in the life sci-
Dispomedic has been making
syringes and other medical products for
13 years, with plants in Israel and the
Ukraine. Berler, an Israeli native,
bought the firm in 1998 to add to his
other business operations. His U.S.
office is in Southampton, Pa., where he
lives with his wife and four children.
Berler, 49, was educated in Israel and
was an army major, seeing combat in
several campaigns. ❑
SEE RELATED STORY ON PAGE 92