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Jacqueline Murphy

Alcon: A company with vision

Alcon Research Ltd.Alcon is the leading manufacturer of eye care products and technologies that doctors use to treat cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases, refractive errors, ocular allergies, dry eye, infection and inflammation, and many other eye care needs.

In 2010, the company completed the expansion of its $40 million 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Huntington Area Development Center Business Park. In 2011, Alcon and Novartis merged, making Alcon the second largest division of Novartis, one of the world’s leading diversified health care companies.

“In Huntington, Alcon makes intraocular lenses which are small artificial lenses that replace the eye’s natural lens following cataract surgery,” said Jackie Murphy, plant manager.

Alcon also makes small insertion devices that are used by surgeons to place the lens in the eye. Cataracts are a clouding of the natural lens that over time impairs vision. There are more than 3,000,000 cataract surgeries performed annually in the U.S. and more than 15 million globally. Cataract surgery is associated with aging as most surgeries are performed on people over the age of 65. Over 50 million AcrySof® lenses have been implanted worldwide since its introduction in the early 1990’s.

“Over the last 65 years, Alcon has built a portfolio of high quality products that address all aspects of eye disease and dysfunctions,” Murphy said. “Because of our complete focus on the eye and the eye care professionals that we serve, we have become the clear leader in the industry. At the end of the day, though, all that we do is guided by the desire to help people see better to live life more fully.”

The company known today as Alcon came to West Virginia in 1977, when two ophthalmologists bought a California company called CILCO and moved it to their hometown Huntington. That move was supported by the West Virginia Economic Development Authority and the Huntington Industrial Corporation, the predecessor to the current Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO).

“Over time, we developed excellent partnerships with local agencies and educational institutions that have helped develop a talented local workforce and a local pool of capable workers to grow with us,” Murphy said.

Among the advantages of locating in West Virginia, Murphy cited:

  • Lower costs for real estate and energy
  • Access to several educational institutions and medical centers.
  • Employees that have a strong work ethic, are reliable and stay with us for a long time.
  • Building on our existing investment and long history at this site enables us to ensure quality and improve productivity.
  • The favorable business environment and the support of HADCO make Huntington attractive for long-term investment.

West Virginia’s business climate, fiscal management and workforce training programs were also attractive, she said.

“When states have stable economies and sound fiscal affairs, it is easier for companies to make investment decisions that bring new jobs to the area,” Murphy said. “Alcon has been enriched by the association with the Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce Training Program. Alcon utilized the training dollars far more effectively with this support, allowing us to bring new skills to our workforce and enhance their employability for the business demands of the future. We also have benefited for many years from a very positive relationship with HADCO and the local officials in Cabell County and Huntington.

“Alcon’s associates in Huntington are extremely important to the achievement of our mission of preserving, restoring and enhancing vision. The high quality products that we make here in Huntington are critical to helping millions of people see better and live their lives more fully.”

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