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NH company to benefit from Defense Production ACT PPE funding

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:57 PM EST
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COLEBROOK, N.H. (WCAX) - A medical glove manufacturer in Colebrook, New Hampshire, is expanding thanks to the federal Defense Production Act, but scaling up comes with its own set of challenges.

Employees at American Performance Polymers were hard at work Wednesday pumping out medical exam gloves for front-line workers. After COVID hit, the company received $35-million in federal Defense Production Act funds to get it done.

“Our job was to build as many gloves as we could in the USA because countries were shutting down their exports and shutting down glove factories,” said Richard Renehan with the Renco Corporation.

The money is allowing the company to expand into a 95,000 square foot addition. But as the saying goes, you have to take the good with the bad. Renehan says supply chain problems are holding up the process. “The little tiny chips that we need to do censors for our machines are delayed, so it is hard to get everything online fast,” he said.

And then there’s the workforce shortage. The company wants to hire 300 more employees, but even if they could find them, there are few options for housing in the area. “I would say modular housing would be great. The FEMA-style housing would be incredible because they are already prefab and you can drop them in place,” Renehan said.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, took part in Wednesday’s tour. “Short term, obviously the workforce shortage and supply chain issues are a concern,” Shaheen said. She says the infrastructure bill will address some of the issues but adds that new partnerships with area community colleges also need to be established. “We need to look at training programs to support workers who may be out of work and need those skills in order to come back. And then we need to get child chair centers open again.

Company officials say they hope to be pumping out a billion gloves a year by next fall, and there are plans to expand into additional factories as well.

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