Archive for the ‘News’ Category

NOT THIS TIME

Legislators Wednesday were poised to pass a bill approving some $1.5 billion in incentives to land an automobile manufacturing plant on a 1,800 acre site in Randolph County at the Guilford County line. But Tuesday night Toyota and Mazda announced the plant and 4,000 jobs will go to Huntsville, Alabama which offered less in incentives but which already has a supply chain for production of cars. The average salary of jobs will be $50,000, Toyota Mazda announced.

An executive with the site-selection team observed that Alabama now has 57,000 people employed in the automotive industries. “They did not want to be a pioneer in North Carolina,” he surmised.

The North Carolina effort was bipartisan with legislators and the office of Gov. Roy Cooper working hard to land the plant. The learning process will eventually lead to an automobile manufacturer on the site, the governor’s office insisted. Legislators reiterated support for manufacturing clusters in North Carolina.

IN AND OUT

The North Carolina General Assembly convened in Raleigh this week for a series of in-and-out sessions and committee meetings. Dominating the agenda is the realignment of 13 Congressional Districts, the redistricting of Judicial centers, and perhaps crafting an another amendment to the state constitution to make judges appointed and subject to approval of state lawmakers. As expected, vocal opposition has been part of the process.

Observers in Raleigh predict more quick sessions over the next few months before the normal short session of the Legislature begins in mid-May. Republicans dominate the Senate and House with veto-proof majorities. Recent polls indicate a possibility Democrats will gain enough seats in November to block veto overrides. The GOP will push major priorities into law before November, the reasoning goes.

ED GAVIN

Ed Gavin

Ed Gavin

Memorial services for Cecil Edward Gavin will be held Saturday, January 13, at 10:30 a.m. At First Presbyterian Church in Hickory. Mr. Gavin died January 2 in Frye Regional Center in Hickory. He was 79.

Gavin was well-known in the Southeast textiles industries. After graduating from Auburn University in his native Alabama, he started in the offices of Bibb Mills in Macon GA. He later was employed in internal auditing and purchasing at Burlington Industries in Greensboro. He was widely known as an acrylic yarn salesman for National Spinning Co. with customers throughout the Southeastern United States. He retired in 2003. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Jane Blanton Gavin, two sons, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Gavin was active in The Carolina Hosiery Association and The Hosiery Association. He and his wife were participants in Hickory Community organizations.

It’s All About Jobs

Technology. Manufacturing. Healthcare. But North Carolina also is employing thousands of people in food distribution and processing. Seventeen counties listed top employers in food and agriculture related businesses. In 19 counties the largest employer was a retailer or educational institution (college or community college).

The picture for North Carolina’s economy also shows how vulnerable some counties are in the drive to “reform” healthcare. In 40 percent of the state, healthcare is driving the economic engine. The accelerated drive for new technology is affecting the hosiery and textile companies. With the creation of a proposed Fabric Discovery Center in North Carolina and its mission to commercialize high-performing products, new technology and the people to use it will put new demands on companies and the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center.

Welcome 2018. The race is on.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays,
PAUL FOGLEMAN

New Shift…New Dynamics

Wake and Mecklenburg Counties are racing to the top. Mecklenburg with 1.055 million people is the largest, followed closely by Wake with 1.029 residents. But Wake’s rate of growth is the fastest. Some 67 people move into Wake every day…almost 30,000 new people every year. Raleigh, Charlotte and eight other cities in the top 10 have 2.39 million almost one-fifth of the total population. Per capita income in Wake and Mecklenburg is almost identical at $51,000. Warren County with a per capita income of $29,100 is the state’s poorest. Most others range from $30,000 to $45,000, with Buncombe, Catawba, Durham, Orange, Guilford, Forsyth and Gaston over $40, 000.

The dynamics of the shift has divided state legislators and not just along partisan lines. Residents of the poorer counties are paying a tax rate approaching $1.00 per assessed valuation and are still struggling with inadequate public schools and infrastructure. Businesses looking to move to North Carolina have employees who demand quality schools, more shopping opportunities, entertainment and a diverse culture. Senator Harry Brown, Senate majority leader and Appropriations Chair, has challenged counties in his district. He sees the schools in need of repair in high-taxed locations. He has floated the concept of sharing sales taxes, most collected in the metropolitan areas. As expected he has met resistance. Brown also frets that a huge percent of state incentive money has gone to Wake and Mecklenburg Counties where businesses prefer to locate.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays,
PAUL FOGLEMAN

The Path for North Carolina And Its Shifting Economy

A new report compiled by North Carolina magazine is a revealing report of a state that is moving down a new path in the 21st century. It is not news that North Carolina is changing dramatically. But how the hosiery and textiles industries fit into the future is something to ponder.

Trends that are changing the face of the state will pose serious challenges for legislators, policy administrators, educators, and—most important—families coping with a jobs market demanding new and challenging skills. Think technology.

Manufacturing is still near the top rung for the state’s economy. But in 41 of the state’s counties, healthcare operations are the top employer. This is the case for thriving counties like Durham with Duke Medical Center,and to small counties where the local hospital provides the most jobs. In three counties, the Walmart store is the largest employer. And so we have another view of the “two North Carolinas”–one experiencing a growth rate of 10 percent over the past six years and the other losing population.

In 26 North Carolina, a manufacturer is the top jobs creator. But out of the top 25 public companies based in North Carolina, only one textile-hosiery company was included. Hanesbrands.

However several textiles or hosiery companies were among the top employers in counties. Overall, our industries employ 31,200 persons. But with new technology, that number is shrinking.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays,
PAUL FOGLEMAN

SO WHAT IDEAS EMERGE?

North Carolina senators and representatives may be looking a infrastructure programs, including internet access to towns in rural areas. Work-based apprenticeships with agencies like the Manufacturing Solutions Center, the Textile Technology Center, and more support for community colleges could be on the agenda. Seek industry input in the design of curriculum. And move more government offices out of Washington DC and Raleigh.

Encourage smaller communities to rethink traditional approaches to attracting industry. Just setting aside land or offering incentives are not enough. Amazon in its search for a new headquarters employing 50,000 people listed cutting-edge universities, top-level infrastructure, and cultural diversity as priorities. A Hickory NC bid was among the 238 Amazon received. This was from a community not to be bound to the past.

WHERE PAST CLASHES WITH FUTURE

The present state of North Carolina is wrestling with the dilemma of the “the two North Carolinas.” As America rapidly transitions into a new economy, the past offers no road map for the future. Nor are the think tanks of prominent futurists and economists. Manufacturing is caught in the middle.

Raleigh News and Observer columnist Rob Christensen recently had a thoughtful article about a trend that is bothering a lot of Republican legislators from rural areas. The so-called “brain drain” from smaller communities to the successful urban areas where higher paying jobs for skilled people are replacing opportunities in towns like Hickory, Rockingham, Wilson, High Point, Shelby and dozens of others. They may be the victim of the state’s success at attracting sophisticated technology and biomedical companies to Charlotte, Raleigh, and to some extent Winston Salem-Greensboro.

Starting with early 20th century, North Carolina industrialized “in a gentle way” with textiles, apparel, furniture and tobacco mills that spread out in small communities across the state, Christensen writes. In the mid-1990s, there were 300 hosiery companies, many of them employing a few dozen people, operating in 38 counties. Then came NAFTA, globalization, and massive job layoffs. The comfortable lifestyle for 30,000 hosiery company families was threatened. Tens of thousands of textiles and furniture jobs disappeared.

Some legislative leaders feel the state needs to help small counties and towns recover their losses. Sen. Harry Brown of Onslow, power chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, feels too much state money for new business incentives goes to Wake and Mecklenburg Counties, each experiencing double-diet growth over the past 10 years. But he and other lawmakers cannot answer this question: How do you convince a company to set up operations in an area where their employees do not want to live?

A new study by the Brookings Institution, a renown Washington DC think tank, found that smaller cities have had a much more difficult time recovering from the Great Recession. The survey found that between 2009 and 2015, private employment grew almost twice the rate in metropolitan areas with 500,000 or more people than those with 80,000 to 215,000. It also found that income grew almost 50 percent more in larger areas.

Eduardo Porter, a New York Times columnist, wrote “Bigger cities are more productive. They are more innovative. They draw better educated people by offering them higher wages. They develop a richer variety of industries.”

NEW YEAR … NEW CYCLE

Primary voters will go to the polls in March 2018 and this means an early filing period for candidates to the Legislature and some local offices. Within the next three months aspirants for seats in the House or Senate will be making announcements and holding fund-raising functions. Considering the current political climate, it is safe to predict there will be high turnover and more new faces. This is a critical time for our lobbying program

Thanks to the manufacturers who have renewed memberships in the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council. Our work has cranked up after a summer lull that was all too short.

FABRIC DISCOVERY CENTER

Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), the government-supported initiative to push manufacture of high-tech textiles, has awarded contracts to the Manufacturing Solutions Center and Textile Technology Center to support in-plant training. The College of Textiles at NCSU also is included in the program that will support North Carolina and area manufacturing plants that compete for contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The training programs is an important step in the creation of a U.S. Fabric Discovery Center in the state by AFFOA which functions through MIT. Leaders in the General Assembly earlier this year sent letters supporting the establishment of a Fabric Discovery Center in the state.