CHURCH ROCK, NM – Navajo Nation leaders broke ground on the expansion of the Rhino Health, Inc. nitrile glove manufacturing facility currently located in Church Rock, NM, on the Navajo Nation, which will increase the existing facility by 100,000 sq. ft. and expand current operations. The expansion will increase job opportunities for Navajo people from its current 54 employees to as many as 350. Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture, a 100 percent Native American women-owned firm led by Tamara Begay, was hired to oversee the design of the expansion.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer joined Council Delegate Jamie Henio, Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development Executive Director JT Willie, Navajo Engineering and Construction Authority, and owner Mark Lee for the groundbreaking, which also highlighted the successful completion of the first phase of the glove factory.
“The Navajo Nation’s investment and partnership with Rhino Health in 2019 has led to the creation of jobs for Navajo people,” said President Nez. “The gloves produced by the factory also helped many of our people to protect themselves and our frontline warriors during the COVID-19 outbreak and to this day. This is sovereignty at the highest level. We are practicing the teaching of our elders known as T’áá hwó’ajít’éego, or self-reliance and self-determination. We’re empowering ourselves to help our Navajo people and now we’re taking it a step further by helping people across the country as well.”
In November 2019, President Nez and Vice President Lizer and the 24th Navajo Nation Council approved funds to help the company begin its operations. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, President Nez said the Nation’s investment is paying off as the company continues to produce millions of protective gloves.
“The Navajo Nation has numerous opportunities to create facilities, employment, revenues and business expansion for our Navajo People,” said Vice President Lizer. “We’re very appreciative for Mr. Lee’s committed entrepreneurship that the Nation invests in. We need to bring manufacturing back on the Navajo Nation, and build the ‘Made on Navajo’ movement. Our momentum to long economic success will be the ability to create inventory and our aspiration of capacity to innovate for the future. The Nez-Lizer Administration is focused on strengthening Navajo’s 21st century workforce, manufacturing and business development.”
The Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development worked closely with Rhino Health and others to secure the funding, facility, and other resources to operate the glove factory.