By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
HomTex Inc. plans to open a manufacturing plant in Selma that will produce personal protective equipment and will create over 300 jobs, made possible by $10.5 million in funding from the CARES Act.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey outlined HomTex’s plans for the Dallas County facility, which will produce FDA-approved 3-ply and N95 masks for healthcare providers, government agencies and the general public.
“HomTex has made Alabama proud by stepping up during the COVID-19 pandemic to shift their production to create critical PPE supplies,” Governor Ivey said. “Their ability to be flexible in order to remain operational is the exact intent of the CARES Act funds.
“I appreciate their commitment to the economy and Alabama workers by providing needed jobs in Dallas County and thank HomTex for being a great corporate partner with the state of Alabama,” she added.
According to an agreement with the state, Cullman-based HomTex will use $9.57 million of the CARES funding to purchase mask production equipment and another $1 million to purchase materials.
The Selma facility will be able to produce 250 million 3-ply masks and 45 million N95 masks annually, adding to its current PPE production in Cullman. The project will create between 300 and 325 jobs.
“We are very honored to be the recipient of Covid Relief Funds from the State of Alabama. These funds allow us to standup a second face mask production facility which will be located in Selma that will be producing both 3-ply SMS masks as well as N95 masks,” said Jeremy Wooten, president and chief financial officer of HomTex.
“This second operation will make HomTex Inc one of the largest face masks manufacturers in the USA, and we are proud to be manufacturing these products in Cullman and Selma,” he added. “We very much appreciate the support from the Governor, the state Senators and everyone who made the factory in Selma a reality.”
HomTex, founded in 1987 by Jerry Wooten, is a family-owned manufacturer of bed linens and other items. In addition to its Vinemont and Cullman locations, HomTex has production and distribution facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as offices in China and India.
“When the pandemic began, the company began producing cotton face masks at its Cullman facility. Demand was so great that in April 2020 it launched a $5 million expansion to begin producing the pleated, 3-ply surgical masks used in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities.
This project was assisted by the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Cullman County Economic Development Agency.
Commerce has adopted a strategic goal of positioning Alabama as a permanent production site for PPE, including face masks, after the pandemic exposed that domestic production of these products should be a national priority.
“The coronavirus pandemic has clearly demonstrated that our country needs a dependable domestic production pipeline for PPE, and Cullman-based HomTex has stepped up to fill a portion of that critical need,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “With its expansion in Cullman and its new growth plans in Selma, HomTex is helping to make Alabama a U.S. hub for the production of PPE.
“In addition, the company’s new Selma operation will provide an economic boost for the Black Belt region and advance our strategic goal of providing opportunities in Alabama’s rural communities,” Secretary Canfield added.
In a partnership with HomTex, Wallace Community College in Selma will offer apprenticeship programs that will allow students to help make masks for their region and beyond.
Officials in Cullman and Dallas counties welcomed the company’s expansion plans.
“Through this pandemic, we have seen the need for bringing supply chain manufacturing back to America. The only way to make these expansions happen is by working together,” said state Sen. Garlan Gudger of Cullman.
He added: “Alabama is proving that partnerships are the key to creating a better future for our state and the nation.”
State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier of Selma said the project, advanced by bi-partisan cooperation, will help Black Belt residents climb out of poverty.
“I believe this is a first step that can breathe new hope into the people of the Black Belt for much more economic development to come.”
Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to respond to and mitigate COVID-19. Alabama Act 2020-199 designated up to $300 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund to be used to support citizens, businesses, and non-profit and faith-based organizations of the state directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this fall, HomTex secured a contract to provide protective face masks to the federal agency responsible for the operation of the U.S. Capitol Complex, including Congress, in Washington, D.C.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.