BROUSSARD, La. (AP) — A company that makes personal protective equipment will open two factories near Lafayette, hiring more than 1,200 people. SafeSource Direct made the announcement Monday, saying it would invest $150 million in the venture.
The company is a joint venture of Jefferson-based Ochsner Health, Louisiana's largest hospital system, and Trax Development. SafeSource Direct will make and sell equipment to health care and other industries in Louisiana and nationwide.
"COVID-19 brought to light our nation's dependence on foreign countries, primarily China, for PPE," CEO Justin Hollingsworth said in a statement. "By manufacturing right here in Lafayette and St. Martin parishes, and selling directly, SafeSource Direct will be positioned to eliminate the lag times, uncertainty and frustration that plague international manufacturing and shipping.
SafeSource Direct will spend $73 million to renovate an 80,000-square-foot (7,400-square-meter) building in Broussard. The location will serve as SafeSource's headquarters and as a factory for masks, hair covers, shoe covers and isolation gowns.
The company will spend another $77 million to build a 400,000-square-foot (37,000-square-meter) factory in St. Martin Parish just across the parish line from Broussard. The plant will have multiple manufacturing lines, with its main product planned to be nitrile rubber gloves.
The 245 workers at the Lafayette Parish facility will make $45,300 a year on average, while the 976 workers in St. Martin Parish will make $38,000 a year on average, officials said. Construction has begun and the Lafayette Parish plant is scheduled to open in the summer. All jobs are supposed to be filled by the end of 2023.
The state will provide worker training and $10.5 million in cash. SafeSource Direct could also be eligible for up to $29 million in payments based on payrolls over 10 years. The company could also get up to 80 percent off its property taxes for 10 years.
"Even now, the need for PPE is great and that demand will continue for the foreseeable future. I am proud to say that, with this new project, Louisiana will play a key role in preventing the U.S. from facing such a shortage again," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.