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Textile Mill Expansion New Operations Announced In Carolinas

Expansions and launches of new textile manufacturers in North and South Carolina are mitigating some of the effects of shuttered textile operations announced in recent weeks and months. The news involves moves by three companies that plan to expand and add employees to existing operations, or are newly formed with plans to take over abandoned facilities and operations.

Suminoe Textiles of America Corp., a Gaffney, S.C.-based subsidiary of Japan-based Suminoe Textile Co. Ltd., will invest $8 million to add 45,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 55 employees to its operation. The company, which opened the Gaffney plant in 2004 to manufacture seat covers and head liners for Japanese auto makers Honda, Nissan and Toyota, will employ a total of 130 people upon completion of the expansion.

Tahoe LLC, Blacksburg, S.C., is investing $3 million to purchase the defunct Elizabeth Weaving mill and begin producing woven textiles for home decorating. The fabrics will be marketed under the Elizabeth Home Fabric and Elm Road Classic brands.

Tahoe, formed in 2005 through a merger of commission weaver Elite Textile, Albermarle, N.C., and National Contract Associates, Roswell, Ga., currently employs more than 50 people in its new venture.

In Tarboro, N.C., newly formed Tarboro Textiles LLC is essentially a reincarnation of the Tarboro workforce formerly employed by Glenoit Fabrics (HG) Corp., New York City, to manufacture sliver knit fabrics for faux fur.

Glenoit closed its Tarboro plant in late 2005 with the intention of moving its production to China and Canada. Instead, Tarboro Textiles, owned and operated by former Glenoit Fabrics Plant Manager Jerry Howard, has resumed that production under contract to Glenoit in the Tarboro plant. Howard has already hired 73 former Glenoit employees and expects ultimately to employ a total of 140 people.

March/April 2006