Paul Fogleman,

Richelieu Legwear International Inc. has announced it will add up to 205 new jobs as it gears up for expanded production at its North Carolina operations in Hildebran NC. The official announcement came from N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory who praised the decision to triple Richelieu’s workforce in the Hickory area.

The expansion represents a $16 million investment in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, the official announcement reported. The company now occupies facilities formerly owned by Neuville Industries. The company now employs 60 people at the Burke County location.

Included in the report was reference to a “long term commitment from the company’s leading customer, Walmart.” This partnership will assure that significant financial investments are supported by “program placement from Walmart for years to come,” it was stated.

Walmart’s commitment to rebuilding American manufacturing has received widespread media attention in recent months. Richelieu Legwear will manufacture socks under the brand names Peds, Medipeds and Growing Socks.

The project is made possible in part by an award to Richelieu from the state Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state Economic Investment Committee. JDIGs are award to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant. Richelieu is eligible to to receive up to 12 annual grants equal to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from new jobs created. Over 12 years, this could yield aggregate benefits to Richelieu of $2.9 million.

The Manufacturing Solutions Center is expected to be used in the training of technicians in the knitting operations.


The Richelieu announcement was welcome news at the North Carolina General Assembly and helped efforts to obtain a new appropriation to support training programs at the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center. Included in the Senate version of the 2014-15 budget is $150,000 for each center to be used to hire personnel for in-plant training.

“It’s all about jobs,” declared Sen. Jerry Tillman, sponsor of the appropriation and longtime advocate for the centers. Rep. Jeffrey Elmore of Wilkes County who is working to recruit a hosiery company looking to relocate in his community, said the MSC training program could be a key factor.

Reps. Hugh Blackwell and Mike Hager issued enthusiastic statements supporting the Richelieu decision to expand.


The N.C. Senate has adopted a resolution calling for the current legislative session to adjourn on June 27—two weeks away. While the Senate and House have different approaches to the budget—some wildly different—veteran observers think the date is realistic. The public education budget and teacher pay, the future of Medicaid, and lesser issues are still to be resolved.

Some Democratic legislators who are not seeking re-election are anxious to go home. “I just wish it were all over,” said Rep. Winkie Wilkins of Person County.

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