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Posted: April 1, 2014 8:50 p.m.

BioScience training center breaks ground

Courtesy of the Technical College System of Georgia/

Attached is a rendering of the Georgia BioScience Training Center, which is being built across from Baxter International's plant on the Newton/Walton county border.

Officials celebrated construction starting on the Georgia BioScience Training Center, a facility set to open in early 2015 that will both help train future Baxter International employees and be used to recruit other life sciences industries to Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal touted Georgia’s commitment to workforce development and said the training facility, located in Stanton Springs industrial park on the Newton/Walton county border, not only shows the state’s commitment to Baxter but also to citizens by training them for high-quality jobs.

Deal said the link between the state’s industry recruitment efforts and the Technical College System of Georgia, which will be running the training center, is crucial.

About a third of the 52,000 square-foot facility, which is located across from Baxter’s $1 billion campus in Stanton Springs, will be devoted to Baxter, according to Rodger Brown, communications director for Georgia Quick Start, the state’s workforce development program.

The remainder of the facility will be available for use by any company looking to develop training programs for future employees, but Baxter will have first priority to use as much space as it needs as it prepares to begin full commercial production in 2018, Brown told The News after the groundbreaking ceremony.

The center will cost a total of $14 million, including the cost to buy the land, build the center and purchase or build the center’s equipment and machinery, part of which will be acquired according to Baxter’s specifications so potential employees will be training under the exact conditions they’ll find at Baxter, Brown said.

The building will contain laboratories, classrooms and a multi-purpose space to accommodate the full range of training needs for a variety of jobs. The building will also have room to expand in the future if needed, Brown said.
Brown said Quick Start is committed to working with Baxter and covering the costs for seven years. According to the original incentive agreement, after seven years Baxter would be able to enter into a joint operating agreement.

Baxter’s Brien Johnson echoed thoughts from Baxter’s groundbreaking in 2012 when he said the Quick Start program was a key component in Baxter’s decision to locate in the state. Johnson is Baxter’s vice president of program management for its plasma-derived therapies, including the products that will be produced at the plant outside of Social Circle.

Johnson said Baxter is hiring people in a variety of positions including engineers, project managers, manufacturing, maintenance, quality control, laboratory systems, information technology, supply chain, human resources and environmental health and safety. He said positions will require the range of education experience from a high school degree to advanced degrees in engineering and science.

Quick Start employees have already visited Baxter’s Los Angeles plant and interviewed employees and videotaped operations to begin putting together the different curriculums needed for specialized jobs,” Johnson said after the event.

“We’re really excited about getting in here as soon as possible and doing some real hands-on training, long before we’ll be able to do it in our facility,” Johnson said.

Brown said the curriculums being developed have lots of detail and depth.

“That’s why programs teach both the theory and underlying concepts but also the manufacturing side of it. How do you actually do this stuff? If you just take a biology class, you know about the cell and the components of blood, but how are you going to fractionate those proteins – take them out of the blood? How you are going to break them apart without destroying them?” Brown said. “And how are you going to do that on an industrial scale?”

The training center will be used as a showcase in the future to recruit other potential life science companies, said

Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.

“The bioscience companies we will be recruiting; they want to see it,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to get it on the ground and built so we can tour people through it and show them our commitment, show them the equipment and show them the quality of the building and our training.

Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, didn’t give specifics about how much interest Stanton Springs industrial park was drawing, but he said there is buzz around Baxter and the training center.

“Companies are well aware that Baxter is right here and that’s one of the best marketing tools you can have,” Carr said.

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