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From The Editor

US Textiles: Making A Silver Lining

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

A t a time when almost everyone is barraged with news of the shakiness of financial markets, the daily presidential election stump speech sound bites and another storm heading into the Gulf of Mexico - some textile companies have ignored the noise and looked for ways to leverage all the negative news.

Yarn Market Editor Jim Phillips reports in this issue of Textile World that spinners may have a strong finish in 2008. Shipping costs, uncertainty and short time frames on retailers' programs may bode well for spinners - particularly those with well-developed CAFTA ties. The tightening supply of ring-spun yarn looks like it may even be helping open-end spinners move ahead.

The issue also features a news roundup of some of the textile industry's leading manufacturers. Large and small, long-lived and brand-new - and from a variety of industry sectors - each company is investing, acquiring and/or expanding at a time when so many have counted US manufacturing out.

At least three foreign-owned firms recently have announced intentions to make significant investments in plants and equipment in the United States. Investing in US manufacturing to gain proximity to raw materials and markets  - an interesting turn of events - illustrates the potential for a long-term shift in sourcing strategies.

Grupo Zaga S.A. de C.V., a Mexico-based conglomerate owned by the Zaga family, and several North Carolina textile executives have formed Lacassine, La.-based Zagis USA to produce open-end cotton sales yarn and plans to invest $75 million in two facilities. Phase one is planned for completion in 2008, with phase two slated to begin in early 2009. Brazil-based Santana Textiles, South America's largest denim fabric manufacturer and the fifth-largest such producer in the world with four plants in Brazil and one in Argentina, plans to invest $170 million in a denim manufacturing plant in Edinburg, Texas. And Brazil-based nonwovens producer Companhia Providência Indústria e Comércio has announced it will build a spunbond nonwovens facility covering 215,000 square feet on 43 acres in Statesville, N.C. The company expects to receive machinery for the facility's two production lines, with a combined production capacity of 40,000 metric tons per year, by February 2009.

As fall comes quickly, IFAI Expo rolls into Charlotte in late October. The show rotates annually among locations, but Charlotte often adds a special lift due to the number of nearby textile operations. Additionally, the organizers have a full slate of activities for members and visitors interested in industrial and technical textiles as well as applications. The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) told TW editors that the association expects some 8,000 visitors from more than 60 countries to attend, with close to 470 exhibiting companies and more than 90 industry experts leading workshops, symposia and other programs.

Although not all US textile manufacturers have been able to adjust to the challenging economic times facing the market, for those that have, the story of finding a silver lining needs to be corrected. Few found anything, but as manufacturers, they made it.