Gov. Nathan Deal presented Baxter CEO Bob Parkinson with a Baxter Parkway sign at the Baxter groundbreaking in August. Stanton Springs Parkway, the road leading into the park, has been renamed in honor of the company. Parkinson said he’d be sure to let his board of directors know. “They were wondering what we were getting for our billion dollars,” he joked.
COVINGTON — News that Baxter International will open a bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Stanton Springs isn’t just the top story of the year — it may well be one of the top stories in the history of Newton County. Local officials have proclaimed that Baxter’s locating here will spur economic development like never before and will have a halo effect on the region. Gov. Nathan Deal called the groundbreaking in August “a glorious day for the state of Georgia.”
Baxter will invest $1 billion and bring 1,500 new jobs, with the average salary at about $60,000.
The facility will manufacture plasma-based therapies that treat chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The operation will also include warehouse and distribution facilities.
Brien Johnson, vice president of program management for Baxter, said the company evaluated 100 sites worldwide before settling on Stanton Springs. The facility there will separate plasma components, purify them and make life-sustaining therapies used to treat burn victims and patients with immune disorders, hemophilia and other medical conditions.
Johnson said the Stanton Springs site will allow Baxter to build the 1-million-square-foot facility to its specifications and allow room for growth. Baxter has purchased approximately 160 acres in the more than 1,600-acre park. Incentives to draw Baxter here on the state and local levels were estimated at reaching as high as $200 million.
The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton, and officials in those counties and on the state level cooperated to create an incentive package to lure Baxter.
Work on the site is under way, with construction to be completed in 2015 or 2016. Commercial production is expected to begin in 2018.
In addition to the manufacturing facility, a bio-tech training center will be built and operated by Georgia Quick Start on the site. The training center will provide customized training to meet the company’s start-up needs and will be available for other companies coming to or expanding in Georgia to train employees.