By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

The Joint Development Authority (JDA), a board representing four neighboring counties, Morgan, Jasper, Walton, and Newton, held their monthly meeting last week to arrange an on-foot tour for the board members of the soon-to-be constructed $14 million Georgia BioScience Training Center, located in Stanton Springs and for the JDA to begin a two-year study with Baxter International, a $1 billion bio-manufacturing plant across from the new training center, to gauge the economic impact Baxter and new training center will have on the local area. The training center will function as a support to Baxter International, a life sciences business which manufactures plasma-based therapies to treat chronic and deadly diseases. Alan Verner, chair of the JDA since 2006, is optimistic about the opportunities this project will yield for the surrounding communities.

“We are currently working with Baxter on putting together a log of economic impact, trying to record the economic impact that we are already seeing,” said Verner. “It’s for future developers, and this study will be useful for the state and future businesses to provide such a model of these kinds of projects ripple out into the community.” According to Verner, the JDA will team up with Baxter for another two-year study, measuring further economic impact, after the construction is completed, more hiring takes place, and business begins full-swing.

“We are already seeing so much good come from this. People who have been out of work for years have gotten really good jobs with the construction crews building the new site,” said Verner.

“It’s good to hear all the positive impacts that are going on here,” said Verner. A lot of people have been really supportive and devoted to making it good things happen for our communities.” “Stay tuned. We’re looking to try to help the schools prepare our young people to become a reliable workforce,” said Varner. “This way, Baxter and companies like them can utilize our young people and residents instead of having to look beyond our four counties for employees.” The JDA hopes to thoroughly tour the construction site of the new training center on May 19. The board awaits approval from Brien Johnson, the project manager for the training center, for their proposed tour.