PORT GIBSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Big meetings and plan for localizing investments for PPE and making faster COVID-19 test kits unfolded at the State Capitol Tuesday. 

Private businesses are partnering to turn the area around Port Gibson into an international exporter for PPE and much needed test kits.

Following Claiborne County declared an opportunity zone by the Trump administration the company HESCO was ready to build an industrial park right on the Mississippi River. With the pandemic putting that plan on hold, they’re now turning to the medical side of the business to help out the area. 

Noticing much of America’s PPE and test kits being bought or shipped overseas Monte Burton with HESCO made a plan to invest the products with Mississippi. 

“Currently we’re manufacturing 30,000 pieces of PPE a day in Honduras,” Burton explained. “But we’re going to be bringing all of those to Mississippi, gowns, curtains, scrubs.”

Already suffering economically Port Gibson and Claiborne County were crippled even more by the pandemic.

“It did hurt a lot of people trying to get to their jobs and keep their jobs,” Alderman Scott Davis said. “I believe that the pandemic has taken a toll on our area.”

Building PPE facilities to create new jobs is not the only part of the deal, Boston Biopharma has also partnered with HESCO and Port Gibson to build American made COVID-19 test kits to ship around Mississippi. Port Gibson and HESCO hope to break ground on these projects in 6-12 months.

“What we are trying to do is two things,” CEO Ahmad Hashem told us. “A. Increase the capacity for testing for COVID not just for Port Gibson but the entire U.S and create economic opportunities for Port Gibson.”

And through their FDA approved test kits, patients can get results in under 15 minutes. With 95% accuracy. 

“We met with the health officials here at the state and told them what we are doing and received quite a bit of support,” Hashem said. “We’re now discussing some details to collaborate and role these out.”

The negotiations to expand these deals to other parts of Mississippi are expected to reach final decisions by next week. The companies are also looking to partner with Alcorn State University and UMMC to expand research to fight COVID-19.