St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ) made good on its plans to open a plant in the El Coyol Free Zone in Alajuela, Costa Rica, to make heart valves.
The Little Canada, Minn.-based medical device company plans to invest an estimated $670 million in Costa Rica and employ up to 2,000 of its people over the next five years, according to the Tico Times.
"The arrival of St. Jude is not only a great opportunity for Costa Rica, but also represents an enormous challenge that will test our institutional muscle," Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 10, the newspaper reported. "It obliges us to strengthen our innovation technology, commit greater effort to developing our young professionals, and keep fighting to improve the competitiveness of our economy."
The plant in Alajuela, which is northwest of San Jose, already employs 250 people and plans to hire another 50 workers by the end of the year, according to the Tico Times. The plant will specialize in making aortic valve replacements.
A St. Jude spokeswoman did not return an email seeking confirmation of the Costa Rican report. But the company said in January 2009 it would enter Costa Rica by investing more than $40 million to build a 20,000-square-meter facility that could employ as many as 500 people by the end of this year. Back then the plan was to begin exporting heart valves by the end of 2010.
"St. Jude Medical has chosen Costa Rica as an expansion site because of its robust business environment, talented workforce and its strategic location in an area where we see strong growth potential," group president Michael Rousseau said in the 2009 release. "We appreciate the opportunity to do business in Costa Rica and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship."
Last year, export of medical products generated more than $1.34 billion for the Costa Rican economy and accounted for 15.5 percent the of nation’s total exports, according to the Tico Times.