Like a rubber ball, latex production in Barbour County has definitely seen its ups and downs over the years, with local officials heralding good news only to see it disappear a short time later.
Medical Industries of the Americas has now announced the latest effort to re-launch latex production in Eufaula, at the former Ameritex Corp. facility that has been idle for the last four years.
MI Americas wants to start production by the second quarter of this year.
“We’ve re‐tooled the plant, brought in experienced management, and signed up some of the largest distributors of latex and medical products in the U.S. to deliver our products domestically and worldwide,” says Abe Summers, president of MI Americas. “With the support of Governor Kay Ivey, the state Legislature, and local government officials, all of whom want to see this once‐great industry back on its feet, we’ve been able to bring those hopes to fruition.”
The company’s investment in the Alabama production complex may eventually reach $50 million as it expands product lines. MI Americas plans to return the plant to full operation in stages, eventually operating three shifts a day, five days a week. Products it will manufacture at the 105,000‐square‐foot, 15‐acre site in the Eufaula Industrial Park include latex gloves for use in a variety of fields, including the medical and agricultural industries, as well as other healthcare items like hot/cold packs and non‐allergenic natural latex condoms.
“We are excited about the positive impact this will have on the local and regional economies,” MI Americas CEO David Silver said. “Not only is this a great leap forward for the community, but by re‐starting production we see this as a symbolic gesture throughout the state and nation that there’s still a strong market for American‐made goods.”
MI Americas said the facility will have the capacity to produce some 500,000 latex gloves daily. As it prepares for the production launch, the company is simultaneously pursuing efforts to expand its manufacturing capacity and product offerings. It plans to also seek opportunities for financing such growth through new sources of revenue and potential outside investment.
“We’re committed to helping create career opportunities for residents of Alabama’s rural counties through economic development,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “By spurring job growth, this rural venture will lift families in Eufaula and set the community on course for more positive developments.”
Silver told the Dothan Eagle in a recent interview that he was born in a small town in Sweden that bears some comparison to Eufaula. He was raised in Los Angeles and has worked in Europe and the Mideast. He has also written about business for a number of publications, including the Los Angeles Times.
The 15-acre plant at Eufaula Industrial Park had been shuttered for seven years before Ameritex took it on. Former Gov. Robert Bentley announced the Ameritex opening in 2016, with a promise of 300 jobs, but the facility was soon idle again.