With visions of a new wave of industrial renaissance for Alabama, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones has urged Gov. Kay Ivey to create a health care manufacturing task force to explore options for taking the state “to the forefront of health care manufacturing for the United States.”
Shuttered factories could be turned to advantage — putting displaced workers back to work and addressing the nation’s shortfall in health care equipment, Jones says. In particular, he cites the Goodyear tire plant in Gadsden, which is working with its unions on a plan to close the plant.
“Just as the automotive industry has changed Alabama’s economy since Mercedes arrived in the 1990’s, a concerted effort to expand health care manufacturing in Alabama will help grow our population, raise our standard of living, and improve the quality of life for generations to come,” wrote Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Health Committee.
“While I had hoped that Goodyear could have found a way to keep the plant operating, its likely closing is reflective of the ongoing transition in our state’s economy and adds urgency to the need to look for new opportunities to put local residents and others throughout the state back to work.”
“The shortage of PPE, ventilators, and other vital healthcare related items that we have seen in the course of dealing with this pandemic has demonstrated that our supply chains in the health care space are too dependent on foreign suppliers and not as diversified as they need to be,” he continued.
While a number of businesses in Alabama and across the country are stepping up and repurposing facilities during this pandemic to make these critical items, Jones said it is likely that they will return to their original purpose once the crisis has subsided.
“It is my view, however, that the United States needs to make a concerted effort to reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers of items essential to the delivery of healthcare, just as we did with foreign suppliers of oil a number of years ago.”