By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

The Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the soon-to-be constructed $14 million Georgia BioScience Training Center, located in Stanton Springs, on March 30. Governor Nathan Deal lead the ceremony to celebrate the coming center that will support Baxter International, a life sciences business which manufactures plasma-based therapies to treat chronic and deadly diseases. The center will be built right across from Baxter International’s $1 billion bio-manufacturing plant.

“This training facility represents not only our commitment to supporting Baxter’s needs, but also our commitment to growing the life sciences industry in Georgia,” said Deal. “It’s projects like these that have made, and will continue to make, Georgia the number one state in the nation in which to do business.” Deal said the center will be a vital part of luring new businesses to Georgia and giving old businesses a reason to stay in Georgia. Georgia QuickStart, a segment of Athens Technical College, will fund and operate the 52,000-square-foot facility to create a highly skilled workforce for the blooming bio-manufacturing industry. “This is not only a great day for the college, but for the state of Georgia,” said Ron Jackson, commissioner for the Technical College System of Georgia. Chris Carr, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development, predicted the new facility would be a key component in revitalizing Georgia’s economic growth.

“This Georgia BioScience Training Center will give us one of the most effective tools we can have in economic development to recruit more life science and health IT companies in Georiga,” said Carr. The facility is designated solely to providing customized workforce training as an incentive to attract new biotech jobs to Georgia.” Ellen Warren, member of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners, attended the groundbreaking to show her support for the project. “I am really excited. This has been a long time coming. This is shaping up to be, not only the centerpiece, but the role model for how we do training in the state of Georgia,” said Warren.

Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, Morgan County Superintendent of Schools Ralph Bennett, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Andy Ainslie also attended the groundbreaking to show their support. Brien Johnson, vice president of Baxter International, anticipates a bright future for his company and the broader industry of life sciences, crediting the expertise of the Georgia QuickStart programs, as a major factor in Baxter’s decision to establish themselves in Georgia.

“We are excited for the potential of Baxter’s future here. We chose well in coming to Georgia,” said Johnson. “The work to be done at this center will impact countless patients’ lives.” The new training center is set to be completed in late 2015.