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Abandoned US Plant to Reopen as Textile Operation

Textile Corporation of America will make the biggest private investment ever in Bledsoe County, spending US$ 27.1 million to buy and upgrade the vacant 186,000-square-foot factory building in Pikeville, the county seat of Bledsoe County, with a population last year estimated at only 1,648 residents.

The new company, which is owned by Chattanooga developer and businessman Ed Cagle, plans to start production of apparel, bedding and linens this fall. Officials said they hope to quickly increase the staff to 1,000 employees and begin hiring and training workers in the next month or so.

"When it came time to bring textile manufacturing back to America again, this community was hands down the first choice," said Troy King, a former attorney general for Alabama who is chief legal counsel for the company. "We believe this represents the renaissance of America, the return of America as a global manufacturing center."

The textile manufacturer will locate its headquarters on the 16-acre site here and install what it says is state-of-the-art machinery to produce industrial and institutional textile products, including apparel, kitchen linens and bedding for the healthcare and hospitality industries. The leadership of the new business has more than four decades of experience, and Cagle said in a statement he is eager to bring production back to the United States.

"We are proud to call Pikeville, TN, home to our new mill," said Cagle, owner of Cagle & Associates in Chattanooga and a builder of Family Dollar stores and other commercial projects across the country. "Millions of dollars of investment and the creation of thousands of jobs will be transformative for this county and region."

The company looked at sites in several states for the textile plant before buying the abandoned Dura Automotive facility earlier this month for $850,000. "A thousand jobs in any community is big news, but it is especially welcome in Bledsoe County," said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in announcing the project Monday afternoon at the plant site. "I know some people worry that we no longer make things in America, but we still make things in Tennessee, and this is a great example for Bledsoe County and all of Tennessee."

Troy King said the new plant should be in production by October. "It's a very ambitious and aggressive timeline, but we're ready to go to work and ready to put people to work," said King. "If it is made out of cotton and textiles, we can make it here. We have a president who is putting an emphasis on "Made in America", and we think the timing is right for this now."

US Industry Growing Again

Ridley said the biggest private employer of Bledsoe County residents today is the La-Z-Boy plant in Rhea County, but the Textile Corporation of America should soon become the biggest private employer in the county. With a monthly payroll of more than US$ 1 million, Ridley said the new plant should pump more than US$ 35 million a year into the local economy.

With its corporate headquarters and 1,000 jobs, Textile Corporation of America will qualify for state-funded job training, infrastructure and headquarters incentives, and TVA will offer assistance through its economic development programs.

Jeff Price, president of the specialty fabrics division of Milliken & Co. and chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the US textile industry "is on sound footing" and growing again after decades of decline. Since 2009, the industry has grown more than 14%, Price said.

Times Free Press reports





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