Baxter International to break ground Aug. 1
By Michael Prochaska
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted unanimously last Thursday to dedicate up to $6,000 for a groundbreaking ceremony to be held for Baxter International Aug 1.
The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. in Stanton Springs and is being organized by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDED), will cost approximately $31,000, according to a budget report given to the BOC of each of the four counties invested in Stanton Springs.
The taxpayers of Morgan, Jasper, Newton and Walton counties will pay for about $24,000, while the remaining $7,000 will come from donations and a push from local chamber of commerce groups, said County Manager Michael Lamar, who noted that there is a possibility that some money will come back.
Though each county commission board had to approve its share of the cost, some counties are dividing up the cost in different ways.
Jasper County, for example, voted 3-1 to fund up to $2,500 with the City of Monticello and other contributors making up the balance, said Jasper County Manager Greg Wood.
“To me, this is pennies compared to what this is going to bring to Morgan County,” said Morgan County Commissioner Mack Bohlen last Thursday before the Joint Development Authority, the four-county group responsible for investing in Stanton Springs where Baxter will locate.
Bohlen also noted that Morgan County will receive 15 percent of revenue incurred through taxes and will benefit from 1,500 jobs and a training facility to be built next door.
Members of the JDA told the Morgan County Citizen that the JDA was not responsible for the cost or organization of the groundbreaking.
“I am thrilled and supportive and delighted that Baxter is coming to our area,” said Morgan county Commission Chair Ellen Warren. “We need these good paying jobs. We are lucky that we have a team of people to make this happen, and I understand the incentives that are needed to attract this kind of business.”
In spite of her public support for Baxter, Warren said she questioned the amount of money necessary for a mid-morning ceremony.
“I’ve noticed that there are some things in here I would love to have a better explanation on,” she said, citing a $3,000 cost for event management and the cost of novelty items, such as give-away shovels.
“I know how hard we work in this county to look at our budget and to save money and to conserve,” she said. “I think there could have been cheaper ways of doing this.”
The cost, however, is an indication that this groundbreaking is no small affair.
Baxter CEO Bob Parkinson and Governor Nathan Deal have been invited as special guests, according to a ceremony invite, though other details of the event have largely been kept out of the public domain.
Alison Tyrer, director of communications for the GDED declined comment on what visitors can expect on the itinerary.
Courtesy shuttles will run every 10 minutes from Georgia Perimeter College to the site starting at 8:15 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m., but attendance is by invitation only and RSVP is required. About 200 invites are going out.
More about Baxter
Baxter might be known as a biopharmaceutical company, but a simple Google search also reveals that the company is leading the way in Alzheimer’s immune system therapy.
Over the course of at least three years, four Alzheimer’s patients treated with a drug manufactured by Baxter have seen their disease stabilize, according to Reuters, which cited scientists as saying that it’s still too early for the drug to show effectiveness.
Currently, there are no drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Most medicines only treat symptoms. The disease affects more than five million Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control. Baxter’s drug, Gammagard, showed promise at an Alzheimer's Association International Conference earlier this year. Eleven study participants showed improvements in thinking abilities, behavior and daily functioning and four patients who received a large dose showed no decline on several standard measures of cognition, memory, daily functioning and mood, according to Reuters.
Printed in the July 26, 2012 edition.