Medtronic to invest $6M, create 150 jobs in Puerto Rico expansion

Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) is launching a 3-year, $6 million project to boost its footprint on Puerto Rico, in a move that is slated to bring some 150 new jobs to the Caribbean island, according to Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.

"Medtronic’s expansion, investment, job creation and technological renovation demonstrate that this administration is fulfilling its commitment to strengthen our manufacturing industry, a sector that produces thousands of high-paying jobs, a vast majority of our exports and a significant portion of our gross domestic product," García Padilla said in prepared remarks.

A portion of the project involves Medtronic’s diabetes business and a facility in Junco, Puerto Rico, according to a press release. The plant makes a sensor designed to take continuous subcutaneous glucose measurements; 100 new jobs will be added to the Junco operation, according to the release.

In Humacao, where Medtronic has a facility that makes spinal devices, the plant will be expanded to accomodate a line of anterior vervical interbody fusion implants, creating the remaining 50 jobs, PRIDCO said.

"Medtronic’s expansion is not an isolated event but, on the contrary, the latest of dozens of expansions in the manufacturing industry that have been possible because the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. is fulfilling our command to use more diligently our Industrial Incentives Act," García Padilla said.

It’s more good news for the Isla del Encanto, which has had a strong medical device cluster for decades, despite recent changes to its tax code. Puerto Rico’s government claims that 13 of the top 20 global medtech players employ some 12,000 workers there, touting recent expansions by Cooper Cos. (NYSE:COO), Covidien (NYSE:COV) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ). CooperVision’s $250 million move will bring an additional 15 new production lines to its Juana Díaz facility; Covidien is in the midst of a $3 million investment slated to create 200 new jobs over the next 5 years; and St. Jude is dropping $3.2 million on new manufacturing for its chronic pain neuromodulation treatment.

"These major investments reflect that Puerto Rico has secured its place as a global center for medical device manufacturing, providing the necessary value proposition that companies need in order to thrive in business," PRIDCO executive director Antonio Medina Comas said in prepared remarks. "We owe this to the outstanding, skilled and educated local workforce that supports the operations of these companies, and also the financial, institutional and regulatory environment that provides a level of comfort and security for businesses."

Two years ago Medtronic said it would pump $50 million into its Puero Rican operation, adding 200 jobs. Last year, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said it would invest $225 million to expand operations in 4 existing plants in the U.S. island territory. But this year both Abbott (NYSE:ABT) and Baxter (NYSE:BAX) said they were laying off workers there. In January, Abbott announced job cuts for about 200 employees in Puerto Rico, part of a 700-worker reduction there and in the U.S.

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