Alabama can play a role as PPE production shifts from overseas locations

As the coronavirus crisis emerged in early March, Governor Kay Ivey established a task force she called the Business and Manufacturing Alliance – BAMA, for short – to work with existing companies in Alabama to produce personal protective equipment.

Working alongside other task forces set up by the governor, BAMA has engaged with scores of companies to achieve its mission during this emergency. This work has also led to a new strategic goal of locating a permanent domestic PPE pipeline right here in Alabama.

A prominent example is Cullman-based HomTex Inc., which began producing cotton face masks after orders for its traditional bed linens declined. HomTex turned out more than 1 million masks in short order.

With support from the Alabama Department of Commerce and others, HomTex now plans to invest $5 million to become a full-time domestic supplier of medical-grade surgical masks for health care workers.

As BAMA’s chairman, I have spoken with many companies across Alabama like HomTex that are suddenly reimagining their businesses. We’re encouraging them to consider a permanent move into protective gear and medical supplies as production moves from overseas locations.

Ultimately, our goal is to position Alabama as a U.S. hub for the production of PPE as this becomes recognized as a critical need and a national security priority. This is one way Alabama can once again make an important contribution to our country.