AFFOA TAKES FIRST STEP WITH MSC

Paul Fogleman,

Dan St. Louis, manager, reports the Manufacturing Solutions Center has received a contract from the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America to test specific yarns and direct the prototyping of a product using the yarn. This is the first project assigned to the North Carolina consortium that has applied to be a national Fabric Discovery Center. The Textile Technology Center and N.C. State University and the MSC have pursued the project with support from key leaders in the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper. AFFOA was created at MIT to push revolutionary research and development for products used by the U.S. Military.

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CODIFYING MSC

Paul Fogleman,

The budget document in both the House and Senate versions includes important language that puts in the State Code the ability for the Manufacturing Solutions Center to use earned income for purchases without going through the State Purchasing and Contracts bureaucracy. As a result, the center can use non-state money from fees to acquire equipment for training and research and testing. Similar language for the Textile Technology Center was approved four years ago.

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HOUSE TO SENATE: OUR PLAN IS DIFFERENT

Paul Fogleman,

The leaders in the N.C. House started rolling our their version of a 2017-18 fiscal year spending plan. And as expected, the House budget writers took a different approach to taxes and spending, adding their own priorities.

The House version eliminates taxes on manufacturing machinery, a priority for the Hosiery and Textiles Governmental Affairs Council over the past six years. Last year Sen. Bob Rucho, a Senate Finance chair, killed the provision, but he no longer serves in the Senate. Prospects are better this year when House and Senate conferees hammer out compromises over the next few weeks. It is estimated the action will save manufacturers $25 million a year. For entrepreneurial start-up companies, the saving is significant.

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NOW THE HOUSE’S TURN

Paul Fogleman,

This week House appropriations chairs begin to craft their versions of a $23 billion spending plan. They expect to hear from unhappy teachers and also state retirees who had wanted an increase in their pensions. The House will its own ideas about taxes. Both Chambers are concerned about unfunded liabilities for the retirement and health insurance for state employees. A provision in the Senate draft would end health insurance for retired state employees who are added to the payroll after June 30, 2018.

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MSC RESOURCES PROTECTED

Paul Fogleman,

In the last hours of committee debates, the Senate approved language in the budget that authorizes the Manufacturing Solutions Center to make direct purchases with earned income from testing fees etc. The provision which will be added to the N.C. General Statutes authorizes the center to make purchases, including specialized equipment, without going through State Purchasing and Contracts. The N.C. Textile Technology Center already has this authority. The directors of the centers—Dan St. Louis and Sam Buff—insist that making purchases direct from market sources saves thousands of dollars. Language in the provisions require the centers to follow specified procedures and reporting.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, a longtime ally of the job-producing centers, introduced an amendment that assured the provision was included in the Senate budget.

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ROUND TWO: ANOTHER SPENDING PLAN

Paul Fogleman,

The North Carolina Senate last week released its concept for a state budget. To no one’s surprise, the 300-page document differed significantly from the plan submitted in March by Gov. Roy Cooper. Most significantly, the Senate plan has significant tax cuts. Personal income taxes would drop from 5.499 percent to 5.35. The standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly would go from $17,500 to $20,000. The corporate rate for taxes would drop from 3 percent to 2.75 percent in 2018 and down to 2.5 in 2018. The governor’s plan would not change the current tax rate. As expected, the Senate budget was adopted along party lines. The majorities of Republicans in the House and Senate hold veto-proof numbers.

The starting salary for a starting teacher remains at $35,000. Cooper wanted to raise it to $36,750. Teachers with more than 25 years of experience would get no increases, but teachers with nine to 14 years of experience would get a 4.8 percent hike. Two percent increases for teachers with two to
nine years and from 20 to 24 years of experience. State employees generally would get a 1.5 percent hike or a $750 bonus—whichever is greater.

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LONATI EXPO WINS

Paul Fogleman,

Scores of manufacturers from throughout North Carolina and across the U.S. attended the exhibit of new equipment for hosiery and knit producers last week at the Manufacturing Solutions Center in Conover.

Alan Parker, president of PAM Trading Corp., the distributor for Lonati, said some 230 persons registered for the three-day event. They included hosiery marketing companies looking to replace offshore sources with domestic manufacturers. “We wrote orders…it was a good show for us and the MSC is an ideal location,” Parker said. He also confirmed that new hosiery start-up companies are buying equipment.

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THE FUTURE OF TEXTILES: PERFORMING AND SUSTAINABLE

Paul Fogleman,

The continued resurgence of textiles manufacturing will encompass environmental accountability and performance capabilities not imagined in the last decade. Such was the message given to executives at the recent conference for members of the Synthetic Yarn and Fibers Association (SYFA).

Global brands such as Patagonia are pushing research on recovery of shedding of microfibers from jackets and the impact on the environment. This entails the impact from disbursement of microfibers in air, land, and water….from the depths of the ocean to the atmosphere. According to Elene Egorova, environmental metrics analyst for Patagonia, studies are showing a “plasticized ingestion”in a number of species, especially those that feed in the water. Ms. Egorova concluded that the goal should be reducing washing to extend the life of garments.

The co-founders of The Textile Foundry, Michelle Letendre and Stephanie Rodgers, pushed the innovation theme with a presentation “Yarn is the Next Invention.” They currently are following the goals of the federally-funded Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA} which is pushing high-tech developments in textiles for military purposes. They were followed by presentations on understanding the low emissivity treatments for wovens, nonwovens and knits.

The growth of textiles in the U.S. Is evidenced by the decision of Lenzing Fibers, an Austrian company, to build a multi-million plant near Mobile, AL. Lenzing manufactures Viscose, yarn made from wood pulp. David Adkins, director of sales for the Americas, said Lenzing only purchases wood from sustainable forestry operations.

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SILENCE AFTER THE FURY

Paul Fogleman,

The N.C. House and Senate convened this week without a legislative bill on the agenda. The somber mood in the General Assembly was underscored by the sudden death of Mark Binker, who for 12 years served as a reporter covering state politics and government. Leaders of both political parties, including Gov. Roy Cooper, made public comments admiring the professionalism of Binker who worked for the Greensboro News-Record, later for WRAL’s Capitol Report, and more recently for the Raleigh News-Observer Insider. Binker was 43. Last week committees and the chambers worked at a frenzied pace to pass bills before the crossover deadline. Bills must pass one chamber before it can cross over to the next.

Wednesday the House and Senate met in a joint session to honor the UNC men’s basketball team that won the NCAA national championship. The Senate reportedly is working on the budget which will be rolled out next week—by Thursday according to some reports.

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SOMETHING-YOU-MAY-NOT-KNOW DEPARTMENT

Paul Fogleman,

Among the people at the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday was Brent Lane, one of the persons behind the creation of JDIG. Lane also is the leading figures in tracing the fate of The Lost Colony, the first attempt of the English to settle in North America. The colony disappeared mysteriously between 1585 and 1587. They left no clue of their fate.

Lane has tracked the colonists up the Chowan River and found evidence of their presence among Indian tribes. He surmises that those not killed by other Indians scattered and were assimilated.

Lane also discovered in London that a “scientific party” of Englishmen came over a year before the colonists. They were sent to determine if North America could support life and produce goods to generate a profit for investors. Who knew?

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