Decades after we believed the U.S. textile industry died, it has made a comeback! In 2012, the industry generated $54 billion in shipments and employed 233,000 people.
Last year, companies in Brazil, Canada, China, Dubai, Great Britain, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Switzerland announced plans to open or expand textile plants in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Southern states are seeing the most growth because of tax breaks, reliable utilities, modern ports and airports, and a well-trained, nonunion workforce.
Textiles, mostly cotton, once dominated the South’s economy—peaking in June 1948 with 1.3 million jobs.
About 21 months ago, the South Carolina Department of Commerce told Keith Tunnell, president of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corporation, that a Chinese cotton spinning company called Keer Group was looking for a U.S. manufacturing site.
“We chose to locate our first U.S. facility in South Carolina for a number of reasons, which include the state’s workforce, proximity to cotton producers and access to the port in Charleston,” said Keer chairman Zhu Shanqing. Keer Group announced it will invest $218 million to build a 230,000-square-foot yarn factory and create 501 jobs within five years in Lancaster County.
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