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From The Editor

Sustainable And Stimulative

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

A mid the doom and gloom, some bright spots still occur in the textile industry. Prior to the economic tsunami that seemingly has changed everyone's game, the industry had real momentum in areas like technical textiles, performance apparel and  green sustainability. It is great to see some of that momentum returning.

Take the case of a recent press release from the office of the Governor of North Carolina. It states:  "Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that Sustainable Textile Group LLC, a national manufacturer of fabric made from pre-consumer waste, will establish a new facility in Rowan County. The company plans to invest $11 million and create 223 jobs in China Grove during the next two years. The announcement was made possible in part by a $300,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund."

"North Carolina continues to support growth in our evolving textile industry and offers companies the opportunity to adapt and tap into new markets," Gov. Perdue said.

The release goes on to clarify: "Sustainable Textile Group LLC is part of the Sustainable Solutions Network of companies, which includes Sustainable Solutions Inc., Strateline Industries LLC and Circle LLC. The companies offer a wide range of sustainable products and services. Those include non-woven fabrics made from regenerated cotton fibers. The fabric is used in items such as personal wipes and other non-woven materials for the home furnishing, medical and automotive industries."

This is great news - Sustainable Textile Group will reopen the vacant Hanes plant in China Grove, create 223 jobs with average annual salaries of more than $29,000 and spin yarn from regenerated fibers.

Circle LLC Founder and CEO Joy Nunn explained:  "It is our goal to produce items that are first of all better products, cost the same or less and are sustainable. Utilizing 'waste' as a raw material, we create high-quality products that are then sold globally."

It is refreshing to see a state government interested in the textile industry while acknowledging it is evolving.

A government interested in well-paid manufacturing jobs and willing to offer coordinated support that includes the NC Department of Commerce, the NC Department of Revenue, Rowan County, the Town of China Grove and Duke Energy is also good news. Another key aspect is that the grant money doesn't get paid until the company performs, so this is not a handout to manufacturing. The One NC Fund has created more than 35,000 jobs and made $6.5 billion in investments since 2001.

And, what about the investment? Well, words and phrases like "sustainable,"  "better products [that] cost the same or less" and "high-quality products that are then sold globally" lead one to believe this is part of the latest evolution in the US textile industry. Non-commodity, global, sustainable products are key.

Recessions don't end on a given Wednesday. Recovery varies in duration and, although it would be convenient to have clear signals as to where the United States is in the economic cycle, few know anything until after the fact. With that headwind, it is impressive to see companies stepping forward and investing in the future.

May/June 2009