SafeSource Direct LLC, a joint venture between Ochsner Health and Trax Development, will invest $150 million to develop two manufacturing facilities for personal protective equipment (PPE) in Louisiana’s Acadiana Region. The project will create a combined 1,221 new direct jobs and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates it will result in a combined 992 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 2,200 new jobs.
“COVID-19 brought to light our nation’s dependence on foreign countries, primarily China, for PPE,” said SafeSource Direct CEO Justin Hollingsworth. “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. Our hope is that these facilities will lay the foundation for more independently sustainable health systems in the U.S.”
The $150 million investment includes $73 million to retrofit an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lafayette Parish that will also house SafeSource Direct’s headquarters, and $77 million for the development of a new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Martin Parish.
SafeSource Direct will manufacture, warehouse and directly distribute PPE for health care and other industries in Louisiana and nationwide.
“Today’s announcement is not only a celebration of the new jobs SafeSource Direct will create and the economic activity it will generate, but also an opportunity to thank Ochsner and Trax for an investment that truly meets our novel moment,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “A year ago, states across the union were grappling with a shortage of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus spread. 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.”
The Lafayette Parish facility will create 245 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $45,300, plus benefits, and will result in 199 new indirect jobs. It will include the company’s headquarters and a manufacturing plant for surgical tie-masks, bouffant hair covers, shoe covers, isolation gowns, procedure masks and N95 masks. Manufacturing operations will be located in an existing building in Broussard.
“SafeSource Direct choosing Broussard and Lafayette Parish for its headquarters and manufacturing operations demonstrates how attractive our parish is to new businesses in search of an ideal location to successfully operate,” said Mayor-President Josh Guillory of Lafayette Parish. “A company of this size will not only boost our economy, but it will also create hundreds of competitive job opportunities for our citizens.”
The St. Martin Parish facility will employ 976 direct employees with an annual salary of $38,000, plus benefits, and will result in 793 new indirect jobs. The greenfield facility will include 400,000 square feet of manufacturing space located on 49 acres in Broussard. It will include multiple production lines for PPE manufacturing, with nitrile rubber gloves as the main product.
“All of our parish leaders are excited about the decision of Ochsner and Trax Development to locate this PPE facility in our parish,” said St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars. “Not only will this prudent investment provide the public with an important product, but it will also yield significant dividends in the form of jobs and countless consequential benefits which are much-needed throughout all of Acadiana. I would be remiss if I did not further note that this announcement, together with a recently awarded $3.1 million EDA grant for fiber services to cover this very area, demonstrates that our parish and this region have much to offer.”
Construction of the facilities is underway, with the Lafayette Parish facility expected to commence commercial operations by the third quarter of 2021. Hiring for the new facilities will begin in mid-2021, with all positions to be filled by the end of 2023.
“Ochsner Health’s commitment to the communities we serve extends far beyond health care. We are creating jobs and investing in people, too,” said Ochsner Health President and CEO Warner Thomas. “As part of our recent merger with Ochsner Lafayette General, we committed $465 million to improve the health and lives of people in Acadiana. Today, we are proud to build on that with a $150 million investment that will create 2,200 new jobs in the region and meet a critical national demand for a reliable domestic source of PPE. Not only will we be manufacturing PPE for our own employees and partner employees to keep them safe as they care for patients, but through this partnership we will also be providing a new source of quality PPE to protect front-line workers nationwide. We are grateful to all our partners who made this possible, especially Governor Edwards and Louisiana Economic Development. Their forward-thinking leadership will yield significant returns for our state’s economy, and the well-being of its people, for generations to come.”
To secure the project in Acadiana, Louisiana offered SafeSource Direct an incentive package for both sites. For the facility in Lafayette Parish, the incentive package includes workforce training and talent attraction assistance via LED FastStart®. Additionally, SafeSource will receive a $2.5 million performance-based grant. For the facility in St. Martin Parish, the company will receive LED FastStart services, as well as an $8 million performance-based grant. The company also is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“Ochsner’s growth and investment in Acadiana is a testament to our top-notch manufacturing sector, pro-business environment, and the community of innovation we have fostered in the region,” said One Acadiana President and CEO Troy Wayman. “The great news that one of SafeSource’s PPE manufacturing locations will locate at the Spanish Trail Industrial Park Site – a site in St. Martin Parish that we certified through LED just last year – is a significant validation of the work we do certifying sites for business development. This investment will create over 1,200 jobs at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted Acadiana’s economy. We are very proud to have worked with the development team, the State of Louisiana and our local partners, LEDA and the St. Martin Parish Economic Development Authority, to secure this investment in Acadiana.”
“Today’s announcement by SafeSource and Ochsner is wonderful news for the City of Broussard, Lafayette and St. Martin parishes, and all of Acadiana,” said President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. “The merger between Ochsner and Lafayette General Health placed Acadiana in a strategic position to serve as a production and fulfillment hub for the system’s PPE needs and potentially those of other businesses. This project is a prime example of the direction of business attraction and expansion efforts post-COVID – concentrating on onshoring and returning/expanding production and operations to Louisiana.”
The SafeSource Direct facilities are the latest in a series of investments in Louisiana in the broader medical care and equipment fields. In December 2019, Medline Industries announced plans to build a major medical supply facility and distribution center in Louisiana’s Southeast Region. Provider of durable medical equipment Viemed announced a 220-job expansion of its Lafayette-based headquarters in June 2019. Home health services provider LHC Group broke ground on a new 500-job home office expansion, also in Lafayette, in March 2019.
“This is a tremendous achievement, not only for the city of Broussard but also for our entire region and state,” said Broussard Mayor Ray Bourque. “We have focused our efforts for the past two years to foster growth and build partnerships for the benefit of our residents and businesses. I commend the Broussard Economic Development Corporation for their work on bringing this LED Certified Site to fruition and am grateful to the developers for investing, with us, in the future of Broussard.”
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