When Blue Star-AGI announced plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a medical glove manufacturing facility in Wythe County, and hire approximately 2,500 employees, the first question many people asked was – where will they find the workers?
The answer is everywhere. And if you know someone who has left the area, but would like to return, now is the time to reach out to them.
Suzanne W. Clark, communications director for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which oversees the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program that will oversee finding and training employees, said the program plans to leverage all sources in search of job candidates.
“Including Wythe and adjoining counties, local and regional community colleges, area high schools, and regional resources like Virginia Career Works offices. The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program team will also recruit outside the local area, from universities across Virginia; neighboring states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and beyond; to just about anywhere in the United States,” Clark said in an email. “Some of the professional positions will likely need to be filled by people relocating from outside the area, and the team will specifically look for people who have ties to the region and would like to move back for great job opportunities. We expect the vast majority of the employees will be recruited from within the region and former residents moving back.”
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The Talent Accelerator Program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation.
Nearly 2,500 jobs are expected to be created over the next five years. Finding people to fill the jobs will be a challenge, but the accelerator program is ready, Clark said.
“While this volume could pose some challenges, the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program has very sophisticated tools at its disposal that would give Blue Star NBR and Blue Star-AGI an advantage to find the workers it needs in that timeframe,” she added.
Facilities on the one-mile-long lot will also be phased in. In all, six buildings will be built on Lot 24 in Progress Park over the next five years. Officials said the average salary will be more than $37,000 a year.
Bill Mosher, vice president of operations for Blue Star-AGI said in an email that the company looks to hire several hundred employees to run the first facilities over the course of 2022, and then ramp up to hire for thousands of positions.
But first, the company has to hire construction workers to build the initial facility. The employee estimate of more than 2,400 does not include construction workers.
“The construction crew will be significant as we are shooting to open our first facility ASAP, however the number of construction and fabrication workers is dynamic, heavily dependent on each stage of the build. Our project development team is managing that process and will focus on utilizing local workers as much as possible,” Mosher said.
Mosher said Blue Star-AGI will use all channels available, including the Talent Accelerator Program and community colleges to secure the best and brightest talent.
“We are in the process of setting up strategic training programs to ensure our staff are optimally trained to support the advanced operations of our state-of-the-art facilities. Talented and diverse staff can come from a myriad of sources and backgrounds, and we are truly excited to watch our team rapidly grow,” he said.
As for the types of jobs needed, Mosher said there is a range of positions available, including managerial/leadership roles, engineering, maintenance technicians, lab technicians, productions operators and more.
“We’ll have roles requiring a wide range of skills and experience levels with competitive pay to match,” he said.
Locally, Wytheville Community College will play a significant role in training workers.
According to WCC President Dean Sprinkle, the college is working closely with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to develop a curriculum to ensure that the college’s training aligns with the needs of Blue Star-AGI and also meets the employment needs of current manufacturers in its service area.
“We have an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic program in our G3 and FastForward offerings that will become part of the training,” he said in an email. “We will begin a remodel of two current labs on campus to house our new Center for Automation and Robotics Education (CARE) that will be a $933,658.00 investment. WCC received 50% of the funding of the CARE lab from a recently approved grant by the Virginia Tobacco Regional Revitalization Commission.”
So, how do you apply for one of the jobs? Interested job seekers can express their interest and submit their resumes for review when the company begins hiring at https://www.bluestarcareers.com