The Minnesota-based medical supply company St. Jude Medical inaugurated a new plant in the El Coyol Free Zone in Alajuela, northwest of San José. The company plans to invest an estimated $670 million in the country and employ 2,000 Costa Ricans over the next five years.
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla commented on the significance of St. Jude’s investment and the continued development of Costa Rica as a location for medical-supply foreign direct investment.
“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,” Chinchilla said. “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 St. Jude plant will specialize in producing valves for damaged or weakened aortas. The aortic valve is essential in controlling blood flow from the heart through the body.
St. Jude currently employs 250 people in Costa Rica and plans to fill an additional 50 positions before the end of the year.
In 2009, 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. Medical products make up the second largest of the country’s exports, following only microprocessors and electronic components, which account for more than 20 percent of exports.