Medical glove manufacturers to create 2,500 jobs in Wythe County
Blue Star NBR and American Glove Innovations will invest $714M in joint venture
Connecticut-based Blue Star NBR LLC and Delaware-based American Glove Innovations Inc. will invest $714 million to build a manufacturing facility in Wythe County for producing rubber medical gloves — a joint venture expected to create 2,500 jobs, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday.
The operation is expected to produce up to 60 billion medical gloves each year from nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) — an oil-resistant, synthetic rubber — at the manufacturing plant in Progress Park, the county’s industrial park. The operation is anticipated to occupy more than 200 acres and will have the potential to triple in size in future phases.
“It comes with great pleasure and an even greater sense of responsibility to bring critical medical supply manufacturing back to the U.S.,” Blue Star NBR founder Ken Mosher said in a statement. “The domestic glove industry moved to Asia and we are now perfectly positioned in a fully vertical partnership with American Glove Innovations to have things come full circle and provide a boost to domestic manufacturing employment.”
On May 28, the Department of Defense, on behalf of and in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, awarded Blue Star NBR a $123.1 million contract to increase domestic production capacity of NBR.
The first of Blue Star-AGI’s facilities aims to have a launch quantity between 5 billion and 8 billion gloves per year, with plans to reach a peak manufacturing capacity of 60 billion gloves per year. The company will produce gloves for distributors and large end users in the health care, government, retail and hospitality sectors.
The nitrile glove market is expected to grow 9% annually through 2027. Nitrile glove manufacturing is primarily consolidated in Malaysia, Thailand and China, according to a news release. Blue Star NBR and Blue Star-AGI’s vertical integration in Progress Park is expected to help the two companies avoid supply chain disruptions and market fluctuations in the price of NBR latex.
Virginia is investing $8.5 million to upgrade infrastructure at the park, including $3 million to expand the Fort Chiswell Wastewater Plant, $1.5 million to extend public sewer infrastructure and $4 million to build a water tank serving the park.
“These investments are leading to the largest job creation commitment Southwest Virginia has seen in a generation, and it’s a game-changer for the commonwealth,” Northam said in a statement. “This is about investing to bring jobs back to the United States from overseas, and doing it right here in rural America.”
Virginia competed with Tennessee and Texas for the project.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Wythe County, the Joint Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County, Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $1.02 million from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund to support additional public infrastructure beyond the projects funded from the $8.5 million grant. The company is eligible to apply for benefits from the Railroad Industrial Access Program, administered by the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by VEDP and the Virginia Community College System, will provide customizable recruitment and training services at no cost to the company. Blue Star NBR and Blue Star-AGI will partner with Wytheville Community College for workforce training. The companies will also collaborate with Virginia Tech and other local educational institutions to recruit engineering school graduates.