WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Gov. Ralph Northam was in Wytheville Monday afternoon for a major announcement regarding economic development.

The governor says a new manufacturing operation coming to Wythe County will help to create 2,500 new jobs and produce up to 60 billion medical gloves a year. Virginia has also invested $8.5 million in infrastructure upgrades at Progress 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 on Monday, Oct. 4. “This is about investing to bring jobs back to the United States from overseas, and doing it right here in rural America. We can all be proud the Commonwealth’s investment is bringing these jobs back to America at this unique manufacturing campus. This can be transformational for all of Southwest Virginia.”

The investments will include $3 million to expand the Fort Chriswell Wastewater Plant, $1.5 million to extend public sewer infrastructure, and $4 million to build a water tank serving all of Progress Park.

“This major project will bring nearly 2,500 jobs to Wythe County and will be a major boost for the local economy,” said U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner. “I’m proud that investing in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure has allowed us to bring jobs back to America and compete at a global level in the manufacturing industry.”

Besides the improvements to the county, Blue Star Manufacturing and American Glove Innovations (AGI) will invest $714.1 million for a one-of-a-kind nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) manufacturing facility and nitrile glove production operation at Progress Park.

“I am incredibly proud of the steps the Commonwealth has taken in recent years to make this project a reality,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said. “Not only will this investment promote economic development in Wythe County, but it will also support our pandemic response with the production of critically needed American-made medical supplies. As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, I will continue working to create jobs and improve economic opportunities for people across the Commonwealth.”

According to officials, the first NBR facility in Wythe County is expected to have an annual capacity of approximately 90,000 metric tons, which can support the production of up to 11 billion gloves each year.

“The arrival of Blue Star NBR, LLC and Blue Star AGI in Progress Park is tremendous news for the region,” said Congressman H. Morgan Griffith. “By creating nearly 2,500 manufacturing jobs and investing over $714 million, it will provide opportunity for our citizens, economic growth for local communities, and tax revenues to support public services. This is a significant achievement for the people of Wythe County.”

These gloves are currently being produced in Asia, but will be manufactured in the U.S. Virginia competed against Tennessee and Texas for this project, which will create thousands of new jobs over the course of three to five years.

“It comes with great pleasure and an even greater sense of responsibility to bring critical medical supply manufacturing back to the U.S.,” said Blue Star NBR Founder, Ken Mosher. “I am proud to have been an integral part of the pioneering American team that invented the nitrile exam glove back in 1990, as well as helping to establish the disposable glove market. 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. We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Commonwealth of Virginia for their incredible support of this project.”

Blue Star NBR and Blue Star-AGI will be working with Wytheville Community College, Virginia Tech, and other educational institutions to provide workforce training, to recruit engineering school graduates for employment and careers within Virginia.

“Wytheville Community College’s administration and workforce team are excited to be working with our local economic development partners and our partners at the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program to support Blue Star NBR and Blue Star AGI as they locate here in Wythe County,” said Wytheville Community College President Dr. Dean Sprinkle. “Helping develop the workforce our region’s employers need is a longstanding effort for Wytheville Community College, and we look forward to aiding this exciting new enterprise as they assemble their skilled workforce.”

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