SafeSource Direct, a joint venture between Ochsner Health and Trax Development, plans to develop two manufacturing facilities for personal protective equipment in Lafayette Parish and St. Martin Parish, Louisiana. The projects are expected to create a combined 1,221 new direct jobs.
According to Louisiana Economic Development, SafeSource is investing $150 million to develop the facilities, with $73 million to retrofit an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lafayette Parish that will also house its headquarters, and $77 million for the development of a new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Martin Parish. Construction is underway, with the Lafayette Parish facility expected to commence commercial operations by the third quarter of 2021.
“COVID-19 brought to light our nation’s dependence on foreign countries, primarily China, for PPE,” SafeSource Direct CEO Justin Hollingsworth said. “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.”
To secure the project in Acadiana, the State of Louisiana offered SafeSource Direct a competitive incentive package for both sites. For the facility in Lafayette Parish, the incentive package includes the comprehensive workforce solutions of the nation’s No. 1 state workforce training and talent attraction program, 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.
“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 Governor 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.”
LED officials said the Lafayette Parish facility will create 245 new direct 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 near the intersection of the Evangeline Thruway and St. Nazaire Road in Broussard.
“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."
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.