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ARC Announces $300,000 Investment to Provide Equipment and Support for North Carolina’s Textile Industry

October 2015

Support Celebrates National Manufacturing Day, Strengthens North Carolina Textile Manufacturers’ Global Competitiveness


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2015—Today the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced $300,000 in grants to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and provide support for production facilities in Western North Carolina's textile industry. The investments, issued in the form of two grants, will allot $200,000 to the Manufacturing Solutions Center, a division of Catawba Valley Community College in Burke County; and $100,000 to Industrial Commons and the Carolina Textile District (CTD), a Morganton-based multi-state network of small and medium-sized textile and apparel manufacturers. The funding will specifically help purchase advanced equipment, including a state-of-the-art Gerber cutter, and support a value chain network that benefits textile producers across the region.

"Textiles and furniture manufacturing are a part of North Carolina's DNA," said Governor Pat McCrory. "Manufacturing continues to be a part of the backbone of North Carolina's economic engine, so investments like this are what will help keep our state number one in manufacturing in the Southeast."

"This investment will help the center build the foundation for growth in North Carolina's textile industry. The knowledge, human capital, and expertise is there," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. "Projects like this will enable the next generation of regional textile workers to successfully compete in the modern global marketplace."

The CTD was established in 2013 to reinvigorate the region's textile sector. It is a network of companies that collaborate to meet the increasing demand for U.S. textile production. It was formed by Burke Development, Inc. (a local development organization), Opportunity Threads (a worker-owned, cut and sew plant), and the Manufacturing Solutions Center (a manufacturing research and development facility). In the past two years, the CTD has grown from a few textile partners to a network of 280 companies across 22 states. The CTD works directly with smaller and midsize textile manufacturers to build regional networks, supply chains, and other business needs of the industry. Nearly 90 percent of the CTD's partners reported adding employees in 2014.

"This is critical in growing the textile industry in our region and supporting partners in the CTD with access to advanced equipment. The network has had an impact already in all 50 states, and we are starting to apply the model to other sectors," said Dan St. Louis, CTD founder and director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center. "We look forward to expanding the work."

"As a person committed to the Appalachian Region and the growth of small-to-midsize manufacturing, I'm appreciative of the vision that ARC brings to the region, and its willingness to fund creative and cooperative ventures that are rooted in our heritage industries," said Molly Hemstreet, CTD founder and worker-owner at Opportunity Threads.

Today's announcement celebrates National Manufacturing Day, a grassroots movement dedicated to overcoming the manufacturing industry's shared challenges and inspiring the next generation of workers. U.S. manufacturing constitutes 12.5 percent of U.S. GDP and supports millions of jobs. Earlier this week, Governor McCrory proclaimed September 28–October 2, 2015, as Manufacturing Week in North Carolina. Since January 2013, North Carolina has added more than 230,000 new jobs, including 18,600 in the manufacturing segment alone. Manufacturers employ more than 448,000 North Carolinians, and manufacturing remains North Carolina's largest industry sector, generating slightly more than $88 billion or 20 percent of the state's gross domestic product. Studies show that for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, $1.66 is generated for North Carolina's economy.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development agency of federal and state governments across 420 counties in 13 Appalachian states. ARC’s mission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia.

About the Carolina Textile District
The Carolina Textile District is a strategic value chain network of textile-related companies that grow and thrive together as they collaborate to meet the increasing demand for U.S. textile production. The organization's mission is to revitalize the textile industry in a way that builds on local people, assets, and heritage. The district partners with companies that share a common set of values around creating positive social, environmental, and economic impacts in rural communities.