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NC State University's College Of Textiles Receives Manufacturing Grant From Walmart Innovation Fund

RALEIGH, N.C. — August 14, 2014 — A team from NC State University’s College of Textiles accepted a $639,112 award from Walmart's U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund today from Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The announcement came at the 2014 U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver where a total of seven leading research and development institutions were awarded $4 million in grants to create new processes, ideas and jobs that will foster America’s growing manufacturing footprint.

“Researchers at many of America’s best universities are hard at work on tough manufacturing challenges,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We are excited to support the development of innovative solutions, which we hope will unlock new opportunity for manufacturing in this country.” 

The implementation of new technologies in digital fabric printing and assembly operations will enable significant portions of the outdoor furniture soft goods production to be cost effectively manufactured in the U.S. and be globally competitive.  College of Textiles faculty members Lisa Chapman, Harold Freeman, Trevor Little, Nancy Powell, Andre West and Mark Sawchak from Expand Systems will work with industry partners such as Arden Companies and specialty chemical suppliers to develop an optimal digital printing system. Digitally printed fabrics for outdoor furnishings coupled with an efficient cut and sew fabrication process offer a game-changing strategy for the domestic textile complex. Digital technologies enable product innovations not feasible using current production methods in this category, as well as a flexible and responsive supply chain capable of quick response to customer market trends.

“This year’s grant recipients represent the ingenuity and inventive thinking that could ultimately unlock the full potential of manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing. “We’re thrilled to support the efforts of the NC State University College of Textiles to transform the processes that will ultimately drive resurgence in American manufacturing.”

The Innovation Fund, which focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S., will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years. This year’s grant recipients were selected for their ability to address two key areas that currently present barriers to increased domestic manufacturing:

  • Reducing the cost of textiles manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the U.S. by addressing obstacles throughout production
  • Improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products

"We are so pleased that our organization has pursued this partnership with Walmart to spur job creation in America's cities," said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. "Manufacturing is coming back to this country, and the nation's mayors want to support that wherever possible."

“This grant further validates North Carolina State University and Raleigh as national leaders in innovation,” says Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. “In January, President Barack Obama selected the university to lead a national research institute on clean energy. Today, Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have turned to N.C. State to help with American manufacturing.”

"The City of Sanford believes in the resurgence of manufacturing in our area and nationwide,” said Sanford Mayor T. Chet Mann. “We will continue to be leaders in attracting and retaining good quality manufacturing jobs with companies that are good corporate citizens.  This Made in America grant award to North Carolina State University is very deserved. We are very excited about this initiative and look forward to seeing its results in our community. "           

The Innovation Fund is another milestone in Walmart’s broader commitment to help revitalize U.S.-based manufacturing. In January 2013, Walmart announced the retailer would buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American manufacturing and American jobs by 2023.

Together, these commitments represent a significant investment that will help accelerate the pace of U.S. manufacturing growth. By making production in the U.S. more cost-effective and efficient, the global retailer believes it can bring its customers an increasing number of American-made products and ultimately create more jobs in communities across the country.

Posted August 19, 2014

Source: NCSU