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Wednesday (October 11) the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a $10 million grant to The Industrial Commons, an industry focused nonprofit in western North Carolina. The grant will help build a 40,000-square-foot green textile manufacturing hub in Burke County.
The new facility will be a manufacturing incubator that will expand the capacity to produce circular textiles, a process where textile waste is broken down and turned into new yarn, which can be used as a new raw material input to make new products at The Industrial Commons (TIC) and throughout the textile manufacturing supply chain. TIC is a nonprofit that supports the scaling of employee-owned businesses and industrial cooperatives while helping the region’s manufacturing workforce improve its economic prosperity.
TIC was founded after the success of Opportunity Threads and is now the home to three enterprises, Good Books, Carolina Textile District, and Material Return, which has saved 1.8 million pounds of fabric from landfills over the past five years. TIC also has several community-focused initiatives such as TOSS, a school-based art program, and Work in Burke that engage youth and the community in conversations about the future of work.
The manufacturing hub will be part of TIC’s larger Innovation Campus to be located at the former Drexel Heritage Furniture site in Morganton. This project is a collaboration between North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, which improves economic prosperity in southern Appalachia. Overall, the project will include $60 million in private investment and will create 85 jobs across the three states, with 31 jobs being added in North Carolina.
Through its training approach, the project will prepare the next generation of workers to grow the circular textile industry in southern Appalachia. In addition to providing advanced manufacturing training for hundreds of students and workers, the project will also establish a textile supply chain and connect entrepreneurs in Appalachian North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The $10 million grant is provided through the Appalachian Regional Initiative for Strong Economies (ARISE) a new federal program through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which drives large-scale economic transformation through multi-state collaboration. The project also received a $5 million appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly to support the construction of the incubator.
Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development entity of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region, including 31 North Carolina counties. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.
For more information on ARC’s investments in North Carolina, visit the Appalachian Regional Commission webpage.