The Synthetic Yarn and Fibers Association will meet April 26-27 at the Airport Sheraton Hotel in Charlotte. The theme will be “Textiles Technologies” with speakers focusing on innovations in products they are bringing to market. Some 120 executives from textiles manufacturers, suppliers and markets are expected to participate. Online registration is available.
At the recent meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), Chairman William McCrary Jr. laid out the association’s priorities in an atmosphere of pro-growth optimism. McCrary announced that shipments of textile products—man-made fiber, filaments, textile and apparel—were valued at $77 billion in 2017, up almost 4 percent from the previous year. Of the total, $31.5 billion represented yarns and fabrics, $26.6 for home furnishings, carpet and other non-apparel products; $12.5 for apparel and legwear and $7.3 billion for man-made fibers.
McCrary said that of the 550,500 workers, 112,300 were in companies making yarn and fabrics, 114,000 in home furnishings etc.; 119,300 in apparel manufacturing; 25,100 in operations for man-made fibers and the rest in supply chain businesses and farming. NAFTA and CAFTA countries made up the largest segment for exports with shipments valued at $15.2 billion.
The halls of the General Assembly are most quiet now. Incumbent representatives and senators with primary opponents are busy in their districts cultivating votes for the May 8 elections. For some the session that convenes a week later will be their last.
Preparations for the HTCAC legislative agenda however are intense. Yet to be disclosed details of a joint effort with the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University are being crafted for a major Legislative push. The goal is the establishment of a program with national implications. Lobbying will be a joint effort of the HTGAC and NCSU. But especially important will be the involvement and support of our members and executives from hosiery and textiles companies.
Legislators will learn that textiles ranks third in direct foreign investments in North Carolina with over $1 billion in the last decade, surpassed only by pharmaceuticals and automotive components(which also include textile products.} Also, some 150,000 people are supported by jobs in N.C. textiles and hosiery companies and their supplier companies. Our legislative efforts are directed at building a world-class infrastructure to grow the businesses and nurture new entrepreneurs.
The official 2018 session opens May 16 and is expected to conclude by mid-July. The Hosiery and Textiles Legislative Day is Wednesday, June 6.
Red North Carolina has a Republican-dominated Legislative branch at constant war with the executive. Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat, has faced attempts to strip him of power to appoint his cabinet, veto overrides, and more recently of funds he negotiated from Dominion Power Co. extending a natural gas pipeline across Eastern North Carolina. Color him blue.
Democrats this year recruited candidates to run in all 170 legislative districts as did Republicans. But observers in North Carolina politics have concluded that only 26 districts are truly competitive. Democrats would have to win a net gain of 10 Senate seats and 16 House seats to regain a majority. The recent election of a Democrat in a solid red congressional district in Pennsylvania has energized party leaders across Tarheelia. They believe new voters in the metropolitan areas will turn North Carolina purple.
Legislators on the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee recently heard North Carolina leaders in economic growth offer sobering observations on the rural-urban divide. As the urban areas around Raleigh and Charlotte rapidly gain businesses and population, dozens of rural counties are losing jobs and population. The top leaders in the House and Senate represent mostly rural areas and they are frustrated.
In not-too-distant memory, hosiery and textiles mills were jobs providers in small communities across the state. Globalization on the eve of the 21st century shuttered most of the mills. Surviving manufacturers have downsized and turned to automation. As a result thousands of people have migrated to urban areas for jobs demanding skilled personnel and for a lifestyle with more attractions.
Implications for North Carolina involve education, infrastructure, regulatory issues, and financing, the legislators were advised. Of all jobs available in North Carolina at the beginning of 2018, 59 percent required education beyond high school. Also, according Chris Chung, director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, infrastructure tops the list of priorities for business prospects. Highways and access to markets are among most important concerns.
The growth trends in North Carolina are reflected in the incentive grants. The state paid $421.7 million to companies in the North Central area that includes Wake and Durham Counties. The Southwest area dominated by Mecklenburg County received $34l.4 million for business growth. Some $87.7 million went to companies in the Triad. By contrast companies qualifying in the Southeast area of the state were given $22.9 million.
The legislators are evaluating two North Carolinas: the fast-paced urban centers and the struggling rural communities depending on agriculture, small and medium-sized traditional manufacturing companies, and dealing with smaller populations. Strategies and goals are elusive.
We already know there will be a new look to the 2019 session. There will be more women. Both Republican and Democratic recruiting leaders focused on lining up women candidates. Democrats need to pick up seven House seats to break the GOP “super majority” that can override Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes. Most observers think that will happen. The Senate Democrats would need to gain five seats and this is uncertain. It will all depend on money, the political climate in November and the marketing strategies of both parties. The changing trends in urban and rural demographics also could be a tipping point in 2018. But Democrats have not give up on rural North Carolina and Republicans have not conceded the rapidly-growing metro areas.
Dan Barrett, an accountant in Davie County who was active in the Carolina Hosiery Association, won a Senate seat in a special election in August to replace Sen. Andrew Brock. He and Sen. Joyce Krawiec of Kernersville are two incumbents put in a new district.
The winner in the May primary will face a Democrat in November.
Former GOP Rep. Marilyn Avila of Wake County has filed to regain her seat in November. She started her career in the quality control laboratory at Hanes Hosiery and has championed the Manufacturing Solutions Center.
Sen. Jerry Tillman of Randolph County is one of the few incumbents who will return for the 2019-20 session without a battle. Tillman has championed the legislative agenda for the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center. Sen. Jeff Jackson in Mecklenburg County, a rising star in the Democratic caucus, also is home-free.
The 2018 elections will include the most competitive races in recent memory—certainly in decades. From the mountains to the sea, most of the 170 seats for the House and Senate in the General Assembly will be contested.
Less than a half dozen Republican incumbents are home-free. The same is true for incumbent Democrats. Even the top leaders in the House and Senate will have opponents on the ballot in November. Other notables will have serious primary challenges in May. Taking a leaf from the Thom Tillis playbook in 2010 when he headed the GOP candidates recruiting efforts, Democrats worked to have candidates in all districts. They succeeded in 95 percent of the districts. Some longtime members who have never faced a challenge will be on the campaign trail in May and November. These include African American legislators who rarely have opponents and who will have primary battles.
This week top business leaders, education board members, and some political activists gathered in Raleigh where the Emerging Issues Forum zeroed in on public education. Billionaire Jim Goodnight, CEO and founder of SAS Institute identified the vision for the assembly: lifting people out of poverty through education. Goodnight and others insisted that pre-kindergarten programs are a key to lifting up public education in the state, but public appropriations limit participation of only half the 70,000 pre-kindergarten age children who are living in poverty. N.C. Rep. Craig Horn of Union County, a retired business executive and House Appropriations Education chair, is a strong voice for increased funding for pre-school education. Horn has been meeting with education leaders across the state to gain input for the upcoming session in May.
The state spends $10 billion a year on public education which is almost half the $23 billion budget.
Since Massachusetts Governor Gerry implemented a congressional district in 1810 that looked like a salamander, “gerrymandering” has been used to describe the process of creating congressional districts for partisan advantage. North Carolina reportedly leads the nation in the process. Republicans represent 10 of the 13 N.C. Districts. In a year when Republican seats are vacated by retiring members, Democratic control of the U.S. House is regarded as a possibility. Serious Democratic candidates are expected in the N.C. Ninth and 13th Districts held by Republicans, one of which is facing a fierce primary fight. A switch of 21 seats in the U.S. House would give Democrats control. National attention will be focused on North Carolina in the election season, especially as the state is expected to gain another congressional district after the 2020 census.