Bard, Sartorius invest nearly $70M in Puerto Rico plants

With a $43 million investment in its manufacturing facility near Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Bard Shannon will add about 200 jobs in the next 5 years and make 33 more medical device products at the upgraded plant. The plant currently employs more than 360 people.

The division of New Jersey-based C.R. Bard ($BCR), makes catheters and scaffolding material to treat hernias and vaginal prolapses as well as other products, according to Victor Merced, director of the life sciences team for Puerto Rico's Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Merced spoke Tuesday to FierceMedicalDevices about Bard's expansion during the 2012 BIO International Convention in Boston.

That announcement comes even as German medical device company Sartorius is opening an expanded facility in Puerto Rico within a week. That $25 million expansion will allow Sartorius to produce bioreactors as well as more filtering devices for blood and other fluids. Eighty-seven jobs are attached to that project.

Of course, the Puerto Rican economic development officials, like economic officials from all over the world, were at BIO to push the advantages of working in their area. Puerto Rico has long been a manufacturing hub, particularly for drug manufacturing, but has seem some retreat in recent years. Merced said new companies are expanding or opening new operations, lured by a trained workforce and because average wages for its medical device industry are as much as 50% lower than in the continental U.S.

Bard has actually had manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico since 1981, reports the website newsismybusiness.com. And in the case of Bard, Puerto Rico's good fortune is other areas' bad luck. The nearly three dozen products to be made in the updated plant are being transferred from manufacturing facilities elsewhere, the news service says.

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