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New Balance is working to manufacture facial masks during coronavirus pandemic

New Balance is working to produce protective facemasks during the coronavirus pandemic.
New Balance is working to produce protective facemasks during the coronavirus pandemic.Craig F. Walker/GLOBE STAFF

Boston-based footwear company New Balance has begun developing and manufacturing facial masks, in an effort to assist with the high demand for medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“The global COVID-19 health crisis has called on individuals and organizations to bring their expertise and resources to solve new and extraordinary challenges,” the company said in a statement issued Friday. “We are producing prototypes for face masks in our Lawrence, Mass. manufacturing facility and hope to scale production using our other New England factories soon.

“We are coordinating our efforts with government officials and local medical institutions as well other U.S. consortiums and testing facilities.”

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New Balance, which was founded in the Boston area in 1906, opened its world headquarters at Boston Landing in 2015. In addition to the primary manufacturing facility in Lawrence, the company has three factories in Maine.

Earlier this week, the New Balance Foundation committed $2 million in non-profit grants to a number of organizations, including No Kid Hungry, the Boston Resiliency Fund, Groundwork Lawrence, and Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine.

New Balance joins New Hampshire-based Bauer as local companies to shift their focus during the coronavirus pandemic. Bauer, known for its hockey and lacrosse equipment, has already produced thousands of medical shields that are ready for distribution.