North Carolina Construction News staff writer
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has 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-sq. ft. green textile manufacturing hub in Burke County.
“North Carolina has a rich legacy in textile manufacturing and innovation,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “This investment will help strengthen our textile economy and grow our nonwovens manufacturing workforce which is the largest in the nation.”
The new facility is being developed in partnership with Nelson, Byrd, Woltz Landscape Architects. TIC is a woman-owned and led nonprofit that supports the scaling of employee-owned businesses and industrial cooperatives while helping the region’s manufacturing workforce improve its economic prosperity with an emphasis on diversity and equity.
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.
“The work of our ARISE grantees will not only support economic development and encourage collaboration in North Carolina and Tennessee, but will help deploy new technology that will be the catalyst for the next era of energy and manufacturing across our Appalachian states,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “It is critically important that we focus on the future of energy diversification, while supporting the Appalachian Region’s longtime role of maintaining America’s energy independence.”
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.