Philadelphia native and optometrist, Chelise Firmin’s O.D. dream of running an ophthalmic manufacturing facility will become a reality in September thanks to a joint venture with social impact investor and urban healthcare real estate development firm, TPP Capital Holdings, and a collaboration between four optical industry chief executives.
Dr. Firmin recently secured $3.5 million in financing to complete two eyewear production laboratories, and is currently raising $3 million in private equity from a cross section of social impact investors and healthcare and tech founders to support working capital, inventory and outfitting the facility. The company also received a $750,000 Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from State of Pennsylvania and a $500,000 Neighborhood Economic Development (NED) grant from City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, making Tioga Optical Medical Laboratories the first of its kind to receive this type of city and state funding.
The optical lab will function as a fully automated manufacturing facility and outpatient center for pediatric and adult diabetics. It will have an optical dispensary aimed at improving access to comprehensive diabetic care and increasing awareness of the diabetes-related epidemic among underserved communities in North Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia, the State of Pennsylvania, and as far as the Eastern Seaboard.
The CEO’s of Satisloh North America, DAC Technologies, Norwood Device & Diagnostics, and Eye Designs have also provided each of their companies’ extensive industry expertise and resources to assist in hastening the development of the facility and the opening date. Satisloh North America has also agreed to provide at no charge, academy training for their new employees to include certifications on the specific equipment trained on at the Satisloh academy, (Germantown, WI).
“We are excited to partner with Satisloh North America, DAC Technologies, Norwood Device & Diagnostics, and Eye Designs CEO’s to establish Tioga Diabetic Optical Laboratories™,” said Dr. Chelise Firmin. “With their expertise and on-going advisory, we are confident that we will provide high-quality customer-focused eye care at scale in the region,” she said.
The 12-18 month construction project will break ground in September and simultaneously start full operations as a virtual optical lab for OSHA approved protective eyewear, Pediatric and diabetic eyeglasses, lens prescriptions, frames, coatings and associated parts.