Bax­ter In­ter­na­tional breaks ground on long path to 2018

The Covington News - - Front Page - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

Bax­ter In­ter­na­tional broke ground Wed­nes­day, be­gin­ning the long path to com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion in 2018, which will see years of con­struc­tion, a lengthy gov­ern­ment ap­proval process, the hir­ing of hun­dreds of em­ploy­ees and the ef­forts of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to woo Bax­ter ex­ec­u­tives to their neigh­bor­hood.

Dozens of lo­cal and re­gional vol­un­teers or­ga­nized a ground­break­ing cer­e­mony for the med­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant, which un­veiled the de­sign for its $1 bil­lion cam­pus of build­ings lo­cated in both New­ton and Wal­ton coun­ties in the Stan­ton Springs in­dus­trial park.

Gov. Nathan Deal said some peo­ple said Ge­or­gia could never break into the bio­science arena be­cause it was too far be­hind other states.

“To have Bax­ter as our premier Ex­hibit A, as a for­mer trial lawyer, you could not have bet­ter ev­i­dence that we have bro­ken that bar­rier to­day,” Deal told a crowd of more than 200 lo­cal and state of­fi­cials and Bax­ter ex­ec­u­tives.

Site clear­ing and grub­bing is ex­pect to be­gin within a few days, said Bryan Ky­hos, Bax­ter’s global com­muni- cations di­rec­tor for its Bio­Science, with con­struc­tion expected to start within the next six months.

The com­pany is still in the process of se­lect­ing com­pa­nies that will serve as con­struc­tion man­agers and has not yet en­tered into any con­tracts, Ky­hos said in a Thurs­day email, not­ing that con­struc­tion jobs will be hired sep­a­rately from in­house Bax­ter jobs.

To date, Bax­ter has hired eight em­ploy­ees out of the orig­i­nal 25 po­si­tions it posted; the com­pany ex­pects to hire 60 em­ploy­ees by the end of the year.

Bax­ter is lo­cat­ing in Stan­ton Springs, a 1,620-acre mas­ter-de­signed in­dus­trial park, lo­cated just west of In­ter­state 20 exit 101 at the in­ter­sec­tion of New­ton, Wal­ton and Mor­gan coun­ties.

The park is man­aged by the Joint De­vel­op­ment Author­ity, which is part­ner­ship of the three coun­ties above along with Jasper County. Chris Cum­misky, com­mis­sioner of the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment praised the author­ity for its ef­forts in at­tract­ing Bax­ter.

“I hope very re­gion in this state takes what they did as a model for how to do eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Bax­ter In­ter­na­tional is one of the largest com­pa­nies in the world and one of the finest,” Cum­misky said.

Stan­ton Springs was al­lur­ing for many rea­sons, in­clud­ing its abun­dance of land, its prox­im­ity to In­ter­state 20 and At­lanta’s in­ter­na­tional air­port and abun­dance of hu­man cap­i­tal and an ag­gres­sive in­cen­tives pack­age that could to­tal $200 mil­lion or more. Bax­ter chose Stan­ton Springs out of more than 100 sites.

How­ever, Bax­ter won’t just bring more than 1,500 qual­ity lo­cal jobs, with an av­er­age an­nual salary of $60,000, they’ll bring qual­ity peo­ple and lead­ers to the area com­mu­ni­ties.

“I fully ex­pect you’ll find us to be a strong community part­ner. Bax­ter is com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic val­ues across many con­stituen­cies, in­clud­ing the com­mu­ni­ties in which we live and work,” Bax­ter CEO Bob Parkinson said.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Ge­or­gia Gov. Nathan Deal and Bax­ter CEO Bob Parkinson walk and talk Wed­nes­day morn­ing on their way to the ground­break­ing site at Stan­ton Springs In­dus­trial Park.

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