Archive for March, 2014

HOSEPAC COMETH

The HTGAC is seeking contributions from individuals for the fall 2014 elections. Contributions will be given to lawmakers who support the business agenda of the council and funding for the Textile Technology Center and the MSC. No company checks can be accepted.

Personal checks should be made to: HOSEPAC. The checks should be sent to the council offices at P.O> Box 1708, Hickory NC, 28603. Contributions will be made after the May primaries.

Helping our supporters return to the Legislature has to be a priority for the future of our businesses.

NC REVENUE CODE ‘DECOUPLING’ HITS BUSINESSES

The 2013 Legislature partially decoupled from the IRS code section 179 expense deduction for tax years 2010 through 2013. As a result some businesses that invested in technologies, upgrades, and new facilities are facing sizable tax bites from the state.

However the development seems to have been caused by a “drafting error” and the state revenue department is advising companies affected to consider filing 2013 tax returns under an extension.

The intent of the lawmakers was to adjust the deduction to 85 per cent of the federal limit of $800,000. However the draft lowered the NC amount to $125,000.

“The department expects the General Assembly to make a technical change during the 2014 session,” State Revenue Department has advised.

The Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council is contacting lawmakers to push for retaining the deductions at the federal level. Companies are advised to contact their accountants if extensions are merited … and to contact legislators and urge changes to IRS Code 179.

WANTED: ENTREPRENEURS

Demand for made-in-America products is poised to fuel a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing. But there is an obstacle: lack of entrepreneurs in manufacturing.

Leaders at the Textile Technology Center and the Manufacturing Solutions Center report retailers and marketers are asking for U.S sources of consumer and industrial products. But there are not enough manufacturers to meet the demand. Hundreds of manufacturing and supplier companies disappeared with the whirlwind of globalization in the 1990s.

Dan St. Louis, manager of the MSC in Conover, and Sam Buff, director of the Textile Technology Center in Belmont say they a poised to help start-ups. Their operations can assist with training personnel and development of high-performance products. The centers also are resources for market directions, including exporting.

At the MSC space is available for starting an operation in incubator space. Two entrepreneurs have launched niche businesses at the MSC with help from center personnel. Scott Ian McFarland moved to Hickory from New York City to start a business after learning about St Louis’ program.

St. Louis says there are entrepreneurs and retailers looking for companies to make higher-quality socks and other knitwear that carry profitable margins. “I have companies that tell me they are booked up and can take on no more customers,” he reports.

Twenty years ago there were 320 hosiery companies in North Carolina alone. Today the number is counted in the dozens. The survivors are making top quality products with sophisticated technologies.

Men and women who start new manufacturing companies face some of the same challenges that confronted an earlier generation, among them finding skilled motivated employees. The centers are working on this issue with strategies that include tours and presentations to public school students. The objective is to show that manufacturing is not a dead-end path the past.

Also, today’s entrepreneurs have resources that 20th century owners lacked: access to the MSC and Textile Technology Center and their extensive support.

Legislative Day Set for June 21

The Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council tentatively has set Tuesday, June 17 for the annual lobbying day with executives from manufacturing companies.

If state budget writers in the House and Senate complete the fiscal year budget before June 17, alternate plans will be implemented.

For more than 20 years, hosiery and textiles executives have visited lawmaker to support state appropriations for the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center, both important resources for testing, prototyping of new products, and research and development.

The format for the visits have included a breakfast for representatives and senators, followed by office visits.

The 2014 session opens May 14. The new fiscal year begin July 1 but often the General Assembly adopts continuing resolutions if budgets are not complete when the new fiscal year begins.

March Legislative Report

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Paul Fogleman

Paul Fogleman

With the close of the filing period, about one-third of the North Carolina legislators learned they have a free ride in the November general elections. For all the threats and talk about the record of the House and Senate, only a few contests lie ahead – many in the May 6 primary.

Redistricting made seats safe for most incumbents. Those districts where African-Americans hold the majority will experience no upheaval. Republican legislators redistricted House and Senate seats to assure the GOP will maintain control – at least through the next three elections. As they say, elections have consequences.

Still, there will be new faces. Veterans in both political parties have said “enough” and stepped aside. In metropolitan areas where public education is a burning issue, there will be intense campaigns, some where no incumbents are involved.

In between the primaries and the general election there is a Legislative session. The calendar indicates the leaders will try to make it short and sweet. The deadline for filing bills is two days after the opening on May 14. Lawmakers already are studying revenue figures and spending demands, so budget hearings will come almost immediately after the opening gavel sounds.

Who wields the House gavel is still not certain. If House Speaker Thom Tillis wins the primary for U.S. Senate, will he want to return and become embroiled in controversy? How will national GOP officials feel about his staying in Raleigh when a state campaign demands his time?

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

Top leaders in the General Assembly have opponents. But they see this as potentially a good thing. It helps them raise money. In the Senate, President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, Rules Chairman Tom Apadoca, Appropriations Chair Jerry Tillman, and Finance Chair Bob Rucho have contests ahead. This motivates funds-raising support. Each raises tens of thousands of dollars, most of which goes into the party caucus for statewide campaigns.

For Democrats, finding contributions is like a blind squirrel looking for acorns. Lot of work and less rewards … at least in North Carolina. It is expected that Republicans will go into the fall elections with a three to one advantage. The exception will be the U.S. Senate race.

KEEPING THE EXPORT TEAM

During a recent visit to the Manufacturing Solutions Center, Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said she is satisfied with the team working with exporting opportunities for N.C. manufacturers. This was good news for Dan St. Louis, director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center which is working with furniture and hosiery producers seeking offshore markets.

Federal Designation Would Expand Manufacturing, Textile Centers Role

A consortium of public and private agencies that includes the Manufacturing Solutions Center, is seeking federal designation as a “manufacturing community” for the Northwest Piedmont of North Carolina.

Led by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, participants aspire to be one of 12 key areas selected to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in the United States. As a “Manufacturing Community,” the region, according to COG, would receive elevated consideration for $1.3 billion in federal assistance as well as additional consideration for EDA challenge grants.

Bottom line: pro-manufacturing entities such as the Manufacturing Solutions Center will have the inside tract for federal support of branding and marketing.

Details of the application process were explained to N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in late February during her first visit to the MSC. Secretary Decker immediately pledged her support for the effort. The application deadline is in late March.

The Western Piedmont COG – Region E – serves Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties which has a national reputation for the manufacture of furniture, hosiery, textiles, fiber cable, and components.

According to Dan St. Louis, MSC director, the resurgence of manufacturing has started, with entrepreneurs using sophisticated technology and just-in-time marketing strategies. Entrepreneurs now working in the MSC business incubator are building companies that supply high-quality products to high-end retailers.

The consortium applying for designation includes over 30 public and non-profit organizations and some 20 private companies. Initially, the manufacturing community would help company owners transition to a new generation of leaders. Emphasis also would be on development of workforce training to transfer traditional skills to advanced technologies.

The program also would focus on implementation of environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices, waste reduction, and regional testing and research and development resources. The Conover-based MSC would be the initial resource in partnership with the Textile Technology Center in Belmont.

Both centers are state-supported with mandates to help existing companies as well as start-ups.

St. Louis said he and Sam Buff, director of the Textile Center, are working in concert to grow manufacturing in the global economy.