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Local Mask Manufacturer Plans to Sell Discounted Masks in Kenosha

July 2, 2020 4:05p

From KABA, IRIS USA & Kenosha County United Way: 

IRIS USA is providing 10,000 masks to the United Way of Kenosha County to be sold to Kenosha County organizations and businesses at a significant discount. The high quality masks are more protective than standard surgical masks and designed to be worn for longer lengths of time.

The masks will be available for pick up Wednesday, July 15th from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The price is 75 cents per mask. KABA, United Way and IRIS USA staff will be on hand to distribute them from the vestibule of the KABA/United Way office building at 5500 6th Avenue, Kenosha. Please contact Teri Gamble, United Way’s Resource Development Coordinator, at tgamble@kenoshaunitedway.org to place your order.

All Kenosha County business and organizations are invited to order, but priority will be given to non-profits ---especially those that work with food and/or beverage. If you do not ordered ahead of time, you may still come and purchase masks on July 15th.

“We are so grateful to IRIS for making this much-needed equipment available for our local organizations and businesses,” said Tara Panasewicz, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Kenosha County. “These masks will be used by organizations on the front lines helping some of the most vulnerable in our community and the money saved to procure them will allow them to invest even more in their programming and help more people.”

IRIS USA, the U.S. division of Japanese-based household products manufacturer IRIS Ohyama Inc., announced in April that it plans to add face mask production to its 570,000-square-foot, 250-employee manufacturing plant in Pleasant Prairie. The new capability will support federal mask-wearing recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

The company is investing $10 million in new machinery and planning to hire an additional 40 employees to enable manufacture of an estimated 120 million disposable 3-ply face masks per month. IRIS will hire machine operators, quality control specialists and process engineers. Please visit irisusainc.info/careers for more information. IRIS Ohyama has been producing masks in China for more than a decade and is a major mask supplier to the Japanese government.

IRIS USA President Hiroyuki (Doc) Takahashi said, “We are happy to assist with this project as best we can. We feel a responsibility to get our masks into the hands of as many people as possible.”

The donation was a result of discussions between the business and non-profit communities and representatives from the Kenosha County Division of Health, facilitated by the KABA. Several industry-specific virtual listening sessions about the Kenosha County Kickstart Plan were held and the inability to obtain maskswas identified as a challenge.

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