CHURCH ROCK, N.M.—Rhino Health L.L.C. is investing $49 million in a new nitrile glove manufacturing facility and warehouse in New Mexico.
The 124,000-sq.-ft. facility, set on Navajo Nation land, will support 350 jobs, according to Matt Geisel, New Mexico economic development secretary.
"They're taking an existing building and they'll be expanding it," Geisel said. "They're looking to be operational with that building with a couple production lines by springtime."
Shortly after finishing that development within the first half of 2019, Rhino will start construction on a second and third phase, he said. The initial work will bring two production lines online in the existing 20,000-sq.-ft. location, with the additional phases making space for another 12 production lines.
Based in the U.S., Rhino has a global management team from South Korean rubber conglomerate Jungwoo Rubber & Plastic, as a joint venture.
The Church Rock location is Rhino's first in the U.S., and CEO Mark Lee's interest in opening a facility there goes back about two years. Geisel said scouting the location then was part of an onshoring effort by Rhino, visiting New Mexico a total of 22 times in the process and going back to South Korea five times to bring his team on board.
Attracting new businesses to the area can be a difficult process, but for Lee, "there was almost this courtship, an exploration of him getting comfortable and getting excited about New Mexico being the right place for Mark and his partners to make the leap to onshore manufacturing capabilities," Geisel said.
One step in the process that stood out for Geisel is that Lee specifically wanted to make an investment in an economically depressed area, he said.
"It's an area that does face an economic challenge," he said. "On our side, we obviously were excited to see job creation on tribal lands. That's always very beneficial and very impactful."
The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American land mass reservation in the U.S., and the largest by population as well, he said.