Global medical manufacturer Baxter International announced Thursday plans to build a $1 billion manufacturing center in Newton County that will employ more than 1,500 full-time workers.
The plant will be the first built in the 1,620-acre Stanton Springs industrial park, located just west of Interstate 20 exit 101 at the intersection of Newton, Walton and Morgan counties; the park jointly-owned by those three counties and Jasper County.
Baxter, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., employs 48,500 employees in 27 countries and is a leading developer of products for people with hemophilia, immune disorders, infectious diseases, kidney disease and other chronic and acute (short-term but intense) medical conditions.
The medical plant was hailed as a huge boon to Georgia, which has been trying to market itself to high-tech, high-paying jobs, and Newton County, which has been marketing the 1,620-acre Stanton Springs site as the perfect place for these industries.
"This investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to patients around the world who rely on our plasma-based therapies," said Robert L. Parkinson, Jr., Baxter's chairman and chief executive officer, in a press release.
Construction will begin this year at the new Covington site, which will include operations supporting plasma fractionation, purification, fill-finish and a testing lab. Commercial production is scheduled to begin in 2018.
Baxter's new Georgia facility will manufacture plasma-based therapies that treat chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The new facility will be located in Stanton Springs, a business park that spans Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties. The operation will also include warehouse and distribution facilities. In addition to the manufacturing facility, Baxter will locate plasma centers in a number of communities around the state.
"The manufacture of high-quality biologic medicines is critical for serving the needs of patients around the world. We're pleased to partner with the people of Georgia to support Baxter's core mission of saving and sustaining lives," said Robert L. Parkinson, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Baxter.
Plasma protein fractionation, the process of separating plasma into its components, is the largest industry segment in global therapeutic protein manufacture. The $14 billion global industry supplies products to more than one million patients each year. The United States provides more than 50 percent of the world's plasma supply, and Baxter is among the world's leading producers.
To assist the company with its workforce requirements, Georgia Quick Start will build and operate a state-of-the-art biotech training center that will not only provide Baxter with a fully-customized training program that meets the company's start-up needs, but also builds capacity and curricula within the Technical College System of Georgia for maintaining a long-term pipeline of highly skilled employees who are well-trained in bio-manufacturing operations. In addition, the Governor's Office of Workforce Development and the Georgia Department of Labor will assist the company respectively in identifying and recruiting workers.
"We are proud to welcome Baxter to Stanton Springs and our community and we look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship," said Alan Verner, Chairman of the Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties. "From the beginning, it has been our mission to bring quality jobs to the region. This location is the result of many years of hard work by the State of Georgia, the JDA and TPA Realty Services, and was only made possible through our communities' ongoing support."
"Baxter's location is all about long-term partnership between the company, community and the state," said Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). "This collaboration is a game-changer, giving Baxter the foundation and flexibility to grow its business here and contributing to both the company's and Georgia's global leadership in healthcare."
Carol Henderson, director of GDEcD's Healthcare and Advanced Technology team, managed Baxter's project location on behalf of the state.
With strong talent, a spirit of collaboration and access to the world, Georgia is at the crossroads of global health. The state offers robust public-private partnerships in bioscience, including the Georgia Research Alliance, through which the State's six research universities collaborate to create, improve and grow science- and technology-based companies. Additionally, Georgia boasts a strong talent pool and one of the largest state university systems in the country, graduating 44,000 students each year. Its bioscience industry cluster includes more than 320 multinational firms, consisting of many small- and medium-sized companies that include the full scope of the bioscience sector.
Georgia's life sciences industry and university research, plus the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have a $23 billion annual economic impact on Georgia and employ more than 105,000 people, according to statistics from the 2011 "Shaping Infinity" report, released by Georgia BIO. The bioscience industry in Georgia created $19.5 billion in output and contributed $7.5 billion to the state GDP as well as $496 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.
"We would like to thank Governor Nathan Deal and the many other officials involved in the site selection process, and we look forward to becoming part of the Georgia community," said Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., president of Baxter's BioScience business.