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Wytheville, a medical glove company that moved its manufacturing operations from Asia to Wythe County, plans to hire 2,500 employees and produce up to 60 billion gloves a year.
Governor Ralph Northam called Monday’s statement “the largest job creation in a generation in southwestern Virginia.”
Blue Star NBR and Blue Star-AGI (a joint venture of Blue Star Manufacturing and American Glove Innovations (AGI)) have pledged to invest US$714.1 million to establish an advanced and unique nitrile rubber (NBR) manufacturing plant and a facility in Progress Park in West County. Production of nitrile gloves. According to the governor’s office, these facilities are expected to cover more than 200 acres, and “it is possible that they will triple in size in the future.”
Northam said that after the global supply chain was disrupted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bluestar’s plan will return manufacturing of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) from Asia to the United States.
Virginia successfully competed with Tennessee and Texas for the project, and is expected to create nearly 2,500 new jobs within three to five years.
The governor stated that Virginia has committed $8.5 million to upgrade the Progress Park infrastructure of the project.
The governor’s office said at a press conference on October 4 that the federal government’s investment will include US$3 million for the expansion of the Fort Chiswell sewage plant, US$1.5 million for the expansion of public sewer infrastructure, and US$4 million for the construction of a A water tank that serves the entire Progress Park. The water tank and factory upgrade will also provide services to surrounding communities in West County. This work will also make the park “more competitive in attracting various major manufacturing projects in the future.”
The Virginia Tobacco District Revitalization Committee also provided $1.02 million for additional public infrastructure for the project. The company is also eligible to apply for the benefits of the Railway Industry Access Program administered by the Ministry of Railways and Public Transport.
Since many people in Shuang County are already commuting to work outside the nearby area, Blue Star is likely to provide residents of Galax, Carroll and Grayson with new opportunities.
The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program will provide support for job creation, providing recruitment and training tailored to the company’s products, processes, equipment, standards and culture. As an incentive for job creation, all services are provided free of charge to eligible new companies and expansion companies.
Bluestar will cooperate with Westville Community College for workforce training, and will cooperate with Virginia Tech and other colleges and universities to recruit engineering graduates to help Virginia maintain employment and career development.
“I am very pleased to see the huge investment that this project will bring to Wythe County and the opportunities it brings to our people,” said Del Jeffrey Campbell (District 6), who represented Wythe County at the convention. . “The prospect of nearly 2,500 high-paying jobs in five years has changed the rules of the game in our local economy.”
Blue Star-AGI’s operations are called “advanced, environmentally friendly, efficient, automated, and artificial intelligence-driven” facilities that “will optimize product costs, reduce freight, improve logistics and speed up the overall time to market,” the press release said.
Bluestar Nitrile Rubber produces nitrile rubber, “an oil-resistant synthetic rubber made from a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene,” the press release said.
The first nitrile rubber plant in West County is expected to have an annual production capacity of approximately 90,000 metric tons, and the company said it can produce up to 11 billion gloves per year. Blue Star-AGI’s first factory aims to produce 500 to 8 billion gloves per year when it is launched.
The announcement stated that the company expects to expand its glove production facilities, with a comprehensive plan to produce 60 billion gloves per year. By 2027, the nitrile glove market is expected to grow by 9% per year, thereby further increasing production.
The focus will be mainly on the North American market. Blue Star said it will produce for distributors and large end users in the healthcare, government, retail and hotel industries. The announcement stated: “This production will meet ongoing demand and help reduce risks for hospitals and frontline workers, as well as supply chain shortages and breakdowns.”
Ken Mosher, the founder of Blue Star NBR, is a member of the group that invented nitrile inspection gloves in 1990 and helped build the disposable glove market. After the glove industry moved to Asia, Mosher said he felt “a sense of responsibility” to bring it back to the United States “and promote domestic manufacturing employment.”
The manufacturing of nitrile gloves is mainly concentrated in Malaysia, Thailand and China. According to the governor’s office, the demand for nitrile gloves is currently at the highest level in history due to supply chain disruptions, long delivery times, shipping risks, tariffs and other challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Mosher thanks the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Commonwealth of Virginia for their support of this project.
“When we have all the skills, abilities and wisdom in the United States that are market-leading, self-sufficient, and highly competitive, we think this is a very timely opportunity to not rely on Asian whims,” ​​said Blue Star-AGI Alliance CEO Mark Jason.
He thanked Northam, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, West County, West County Joint Industrial Development Bureau, Virginia Industrial Development Alliance, and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Committee for their “unremitting support.”
The announcement was made after Wythe County and Wytheville Township prepared Progress Park for tenants of this size for many years of investment.
Brian W. Vaught, chairman of the Wise County Board of Supervisors, said that the reason why he has invested heavily in the development of Lot 24 in the industrial park in the past seven years is because it may attract employers of this size. “Today, this investment is beginning to pay off. As the company develops business here at the intersection of I-81 and I-77, West County and its partners have worked extensively to ensure that project needs are met.”
Wise County Chief Executive Stephen Bell thanked the current and former members and staff of the Board of Supervisors, the United Industrial Development Agency, and the Westville Town Council, “Their vision and millions of dollars in investment over the past 20 years have contributed to this important moment. .”
U.S. Senator Tim Kane (D-Va.) said on Monday that Bluestar’s investment will not only promote economic development in West County, but also support our pandemic response by producing much-needed American-made medical supplies. .”
Representative H. Morgan Griffith (R-9 District) stated that the project “will provide opportunities for our citizens, provide economic growth for local communities, and provide tax revenue for supporting public services. This is a major achievement.”
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Post time: Oct-20-2021