Baxter earns 'Deal of Year' award from top economic development magazine

COVINGTON -- Business Facilities magazine has announced that Baxter International's decision to make a $1.3 investment at Newton County's Stanton Springs has earned them the magazine's Gold Award as the 2012 Economic Development Deal of the Year.

"This mega-project will anchor Georgia's thriving bioscience sector for years to come, moving the Peach State into the front ranks of national biotech players," said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers.

Rogers went on to say that the judging panel for the prestigious Deal of the Year award at Business Facilities was particularly impressed by the regional cooperation that brought this project to fruition, as well as the flexibility shown by state and county agencies in tailoring solutions to meet Baxter's needs.

According to Rogers, Baxter narrowed the location search to four candidates internationally in 2009 and the entities involved in landing the project were the Georgia Department of Economic Development; the Joint Development Authority of Walton, Newton, Morgan and Jasper Counties; Georgia Power and the Technology Park of Atlanta.

Alison Tyrer, director of communications with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, was enthusiastic about the news of the award.

"We're very pleased to get this kind of recognition. There's no telling where it could lead in terms of further economic growth for Georgia," she said, adding that the magazine is one of several national economic development trade magazines that is widely read by site selection audiences and companies involved in growth and expansion plans.

"What we emphasize when we talk about Baxter is the fact that it was a project that took a long time to come to fruition, required a lot of persistence and patience and all the players exhibited flexibility ... in terms of meeting Baxter's wish list," she said.

Tyrer also praised the Joint Development Authority and the part it played in swinging the deal.

"That is probably one of the most important things a community can do to assist themselves in the economic development process is work in partnership with other communities. Companies don't necessarily look at geographic or political boundaries. They're just interested in drawing on the resources of the region, whatever region it happens to be," she said.

In announcing the award, Rogers went on to say the quick turn-around between the site selection decision in April of 2012 and construction of primary facilities in the Baxter project is unprecedented.

"Baxter announced its decision in April and by Aug. 1 ground was already broken on a 1-million-plus-square-foot facility," he said. "Georgia's willingness to cut red tape will be followed by a ribbon-cutting on a world-class bioscience complex."

Construction of the first manufacturing buildings at the new Baxter campus is expected to be completed in 2015, with full commercial production commencing in 2018.

Rogers said the process of selecting the Economic Development Deal of the Year included study of an Economic Impact Analysis for the project and a narrative detailing how the project came together. The judging panel includes industry experts and leading site selection consultants who evaluate the overall impact of the project and assess the effectiveness and innovation of the location's approach to landing the deal. Key factors include the creative use of incentives, regional cooperation, partnerships with higher education resources, potential for growth and execution of overall economic development strategy.

The Baxter bio-pharmaceutical facility, an integrated campus that will include three main manufacturing components as well as warehousing, utilities and lab support facilities, is expected to directly create 1,800 jobs with an economic impact of $6.2 billion. Over a 10-year period the bioscience complex will generate a regional economic impact estimated at nearly $13 billion, creating more than 8,700 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

The Baxter facility will include an advanced plasma fractionation facility that will give the bio/pharma giant additional capacity for testing and purification of its medications. Products to be made at the Newton County site include immunoglobulin treatments for patients with immune deficiencies and albumin products used as plasma-volume replacement therapies used in critical care, trauma and burn patients.

Newton Citizen reporter Crystal Tatum contributed to this story.