To secure the project, the Commonwealth agreed to pay $8.5 million in upgrades to water infrastructure at the industrial site called Progress Park
A medical glove manufacturing facility promising to employ about 2,500 people is coming to southwest Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday, calling the news the biggest job-creation announcement in the struggling region in a generation. .
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Backed by significant federal spending, the project in Wyeth County, 250 miles west of the state capital, is expected to create as many jobs per capita as Amazon’s new headquarters in Arlington, according to the governor’s office.
In an interview with the Associated Press ahead of the formal announcement Monday afternoon, Northam called the project a major victory for southwest Virginia and said the pandemic and related supply chain problems showed the need for more production of personal protective equipment. .
According to a news release, the two companies, Blue Star Manufacturing and American Glove Innovations, have agreed to invest $714 million to form a joint venture and build both a nitrile butadiene rubber manufacturing facility and a nitrile glove production operation. An industrial park near the junction of Interstates 77 and 81 is expected to occupy more than 200 acres of facilities.
Northam’s office said the project will increase production of raw materials and gloves now primarily made in Asia. The company aims to sell gloves to health care companies such as distributors and large end users.
The announcement comes after one of the LLCs that is part of the venture was awarded a $123.1 million defense contract in May to expand production capacity of nitrile butadiene rubber, federal spending records show.
Virginia competes with Tennessee and Texas for the project, which state officials said is expected to result in 2,464 new jobs over the next three to five years.
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To secure the project, the Commonwealth agreed to pay $8.5 million in water infrastructure upgrades for an industrial site called Progress Park.
An Associated Press review in 2019 found that despite the huge spending, Many industrial parks of the state remained empty. Local officials said in the news release that Monday’s announcement showed that their previous investment in Progress Park had paid off.
The Virginia Tobacco Sector Revitalization Commission, the entity created to spend and invest part of Virginia’s National Tobacco Settlement, also approved $1.02 million. Tobacco Sector Opportunity Fund “To support additional public infrastructure,” Northam’s office said.
A legislative commission created to oversee economic development initiatives signed on the $8.5 million water infrastructure investment, according to the news release. The project is also eligible to apply for state benefits from the Rail Access Program and Workforce Services Initiative.
GOP Representative Morgan Griffith, who represents southwest Virginia’s 9th congressional district, called the announcement “tremendous news for the region.”
“It will provide opportunities for our citizens, economic growth for local communities, and tax revenue to support public services,” he said in a statement.
Northam said the project would create “well paying jobs.” The median salary was not specified in the news release.
Wythe County is located about an hour’s drive southwest of Roanoke. For more than a decade, its unemployment rate has been higher than that of the entire state, according to state data, although in 2020 its rate was lower than the national average.
Southwest Virginia has been on a long economic decline as coal mining jobs dried up and many manufacturing jobs moved overseas. Area population is also declining. An initiative is underway to examine how the state can provide economic transition support to coal fields, with a report coming later this year.