ATLANTA (AP) — Phamaceuticals and biotechnology company Baxter International Inc. announced plans Thursday to build a manufacturing plant and related facilities in Georgia, representing a $1 billion investment expected to create more than 1,500 jobs over the next five years.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced the major economic development coup — which was two years in the making — alongside Baxter representatives.
The plant will be located in the Covington area, southeast of Atlanta.
Ludwig Hantson, president of Baxter's international division, said factors including the state's workforce and transportation logistics made for an attractive package that sold the company on coming to Georgia.
"At the end of the day, success starts with people," Hantson said. "We were able to meet the folks who make it happen."
Construction will begin later this year, with commercial production scheduled to begin in 2018. The Georgia operation will include warehouse and distribution facilities. It will involve the manufacturing of plasma-based therapies that treat chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
The Deal administration is looking to expand its footprint in the biomedical industry.
"Baxter's decision to come to Georgia marks a new era in the growth of our biosciences industry and will have far-reaching impact on our economy," Deal said.
Chris Cummiskey, who heads the state's economic development agency, said the deal is a major victory.
"We've had some small and medium accesses here, but nothing this big," he said.
The Deerfield, Ill.-based company also intends to locate "plasma centers" in communities around Georgia.
Baxter's BioLife Plasma Services operates plasma collection facilities in several states. Every year, it collects nearly three million liters of plasma, which is used in products to treat various illnesses, according to materials from the company.
In total, the developments announced Thursday will lead to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs in multiple U.S. locations, the company said in a news release.
In connection with the Georgia investment, the company expects to create more than 200 new positions in Illinois, which involve an existing facility in Round Lake, Ill., company executives said.
Associated Press Writer Jeff Martin contributed to this report.