Alcon Laboratories will announce Thursday, a $100 million expansion at its contact lens manufacturing hub in metro Atlanta.
The expansion will create about 100 jobs at Alcon’s nearly 1 million square-foot Johns Creek campus. It is Alcon’s largest contact lens manufacturing hub in the world. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to announce the economic development project Thursday afternoon. Atlanta competed with two Alcon overseas locations for the investment.
Alcon is owned by Swiss health-care company Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS). Novartis is said to be considering selling, or spinning off Alcon. An IPO that could value Alcon at $25 billion to $35 billion.
Georgia is an attractive destination for life sciences-based manufacturing, whether it be pharmaceuticals or medical devices, because the region’s technical and research schools produce a steady supply of skilled talent. A globally connected airport and seaport, coupled with robust Interstate access, means manufacturers can get product and people in and out of the region quickly. Medical devices and diagnostics account for 50 percent of Georgia’s life science companies and 27 percent of the state’s life science workforce. In 2016, Georgia exports of medical devices, equipment and pharmaceuticals totaled nearly $1.6 billion.
The region has attracted several major health care-related advanced manufacturing projects in the past few years. Baxter International Inc. (NYSE: BAX) built a $1 billion plasma fractionation plant in Covington, Ga. Osmotica Pharmaceutical Corp. invested $20 million in an R&D and manufacturing plant in Marietta. And, Seattle-based Dendreon Corp. picked Atlanta’s southside for a cancer treatment manufacturing plant.
Alcon’s metro Atlanta campus, one of the largest private employers in Johns Creek, had been Ciba Vision headquarters until Alcon merged with Ciba Vision.
The $100 million Alcon investment, which will be plowed into new equipment, is the third phase of a multi-year expansion that began in 2013. Alcon has invested $500 million over the past two expansions at the 77-acre campus, Leger said.
In early 2013, Alcon invested $250 million and created 340 jobs. That expansion involved the construction of a 70,000 square-foot addition to Alcon’s manufacturing plant.