Maligned Rust-Belt City Shows Economic Life with Pharmaceutical IPO

Flint, Michigan–Flint’s Diplomat Pharmacy (NYSE: DPLO) gained the spotlight when it completed a successful public stock offering (IPO) on Oct. 10 to raise funds to expand its operations, despite its home base in a place that naysayers have characterized as something akin to a hell hole.

The City of Flint, which operates under an emergency manager appointed by the state, has been disparaged as an economically depressed, crime-plagued excuse of a community for years due largely to the financial tailspin of General Motors (NYSE: GM), which once served as the engine that drove the local economy. But Diplomat Pharmacy has shown that the city can develop a world-class, home-grown business outside of the auto industry with the company’s focus on providing pharmaceutical products to people across the country who are afflicted with complex, chronic diseases that require special medications or treatment.

People who have complicated medical needs involving oncology, immunology, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, HIV, specialized infusion therapy and others increasingly have turned to specialty pharmacies to ensure their essential prescriptions are filled, stored, shipped and dosed properly. The Flint-based company now ranks as the nation’s largest independent specialty pharmacy and it aims to use proceeds from its IPO to support future growth.

If the world’s view of Flint stemmed solely from media coverage, dire descriptions calling it the “world’s most apocalyptic, violent city” might suggest that the community had descended into a modern-day Dante’s Inferno. But compared to war-torn communities or locales elsewhere in which organized crime syndicates or terrorist organizations run amok, Flint is a place where its residents are looking to bounce back from decades of economic decline.

Read the rest of Paul Dykewicz’s column.