Among the hundreds of visitors to the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center this fall have been officials who have helped keep their programs viable—state legislators.
A November luncheon at the MSC hosted by the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council included a tour led by Director Dan St. Louis and a special presentation by a Colorado-based entrepreneur.
During the lunch, House members from Piedmont North Carolina listened to Rick Levine of Boulder, CO, describe how the MSC played a critical role in the development of his business involving manufacture and distribution of high-end men’s socks. With guidance from St. Louis and the MSC staff, Levine acquired equipment that is operating in a Catawba County hosiery mill. He is cited as an example of entrepreneurs who are bringing manufacturing back to the United States.
Levine’s company, Xoab Socks, could be the model for 21st century entrepreneurs. He raised his initial capital—over $100,000 – through a crowd-funding website. He remained committed to a vision to produce and market a unique product.
St. Louis says there are more people like Rick Levine who want to create their own business. They are using social media, new technology, and are exploring new marketing and manufacturing models, he continues.
Those contacting the MSC are required to complete an application and submit a business plan. Once accepted, the center can develop prototypes of the product or serve as a matchmaker with established manufacturers. The center also has facilities for a business incubator.
Assisting entrepreneurs also was addressed by Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker when she visited the Textile Technology Center to speak at a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event. During lunch with Sam Buff, director of the center, and Dan Nation, vice president of Parkdale Mills and chairman of the center’s Advisory Board, Secretary Decker discussed industry innovations and increasing exports.
Parkdale Mills, Nation noted, ranks 82nd among the nation’s exporting companies.
Addressing his fellow legislators and other local officials, Rep. Andy Wells of Hickory said he sees North Carolina as “two states.”
“There is Raleigh and Charlotte … and then there is everybody else,” Rep. Wells asserted. “We have to get the reality of the other North Carolina in front of other members,” he continued.
PROTOTYPES START HERE: Dan St. Louis, director, tells legislators how new products are tested for emerging entrepreneurs and established manufacturing firms. From left: Rep. Pat Hurley of Randolph County,Rep. John Faircloth of High Point, and Rep. Dana Bumgardner of Gaston County
CHECKING SAMPLES: Rep. Andy Wells of Hickory, left) is seen with Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, president of Catawba Valley Community College, Darrell Frye, chairman of the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council, and chairman of the CVCC Board of Trustees.
N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, right, visits the Textile Technology Center laboratories with Director Sam Buff.
FROM LEFT: N.C. Commerce Secretary Decker, Dr. Joe Keith, Gaston College; Sam Buff, director, Textile Technology Center; Dan Nation, Parkdale Mills, chair of the TTC Advisory Board; Ron Ensley, American and Efird, TTC board member.