Jeff Amy
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Biomedical filter maker sets $243M Georgia plant, 1,800 jobs

April 5, 2023 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A maker of biomedical filters will invest $243 million to build a plant in Athens, Georgia, that is projected to eventually employ nearly 1,800 workers by 2031.

Privately held Meissner Corp. of Camarillo, California, made the announcement Wednesday, saying it needs another site to make filters and conduct research. President Christopher Meissner said in a statement that the Georgia location offers “an incredible talent pool and strong geographic position that allows us to serve clients on the East Coast and throughout the world.”

The company’s products are used to develop and manufacture medicines to treat cancer, heart disease, immune diseases and other illnesses. Meissner said its products were used to make vaccines to immunize against COVID-19 and drugs to treat the respiratory illness. It also has a factory in Ireland.

The 39-year-old company says the multiphase Athens campus would more than double its U.S. manufacturing capacity and would include cleanrooms, labs and offices. Construction is planned to begin later this year, said David Linder, a lawyer for the Athens-Clarke County Development Authority. The first phase would open in 2026.

An analysis presented to the Athens-Clarke County Commission Tuesday showed the company would offer an average salary of $65,000 to its workers. The high-paying jobs are particularly attractive in Athens, which has struggled with poverty and a low-wage service economy oriented around the University of Georgia.

“UGA is a big economic driver. What we need is other economic drivers,” Athens-Clarke Commissioner Mike Hamby said Wednesday. “This provides opportunities to move up on the economic ladder.”

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $2 million in local money to extend sewer lines and build a road at the more than 300-acre (120-hectare) site.

An analysis presented to the commission shows an additional $17 million in property tax breaks granted to the project over 15 years. Linder said the authority would sell bonds to buy the land and build the complex, with Meissner paying for the borrowing and eventually assuming ownership. The tax breaks are part of that deal.

Hamby said the state would provide a $10 million grant to subsidize construction. The state will also pay to train workers through its Quick Start program.

Meissner could also could qualify for as much as $35 million in state income tax credits, at $4,000 per job over five years.

The company helps boost Georgia’s profile in the biosciences, which is anchored by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In Athens, biomedical employers include Boehringer Ingelheim, which announced an expansion of its vaccine manufacturing and research facility in 2022.

“Meissner provides critical equipment that benefits other key industries in Georgia,” state Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said in a statement. “From life sciences to food processing, companies across the state rely on these filtration systems to produce products that are safe for use.”