Oct. 08--Gildan Activewear Inc. is placing a wager of a quarter of a billion dollars that a skilled U.S. textile workforce and dependable sources of large-scale power will enhance its global competitiveness.
The Montreal apparel manufacturer confirmed Tuesday it will create at least 501 jobs, including 290 in Mocksville, as part of expanding its yarn-spinning production capacity for new and existing products.
The announcement by its Gildan Yarns LLC subsidiary came a day after the company was approved by government entities in Davie and Rowan counties for a total of nearly $7.4 million in local performance-based economic incentives.
Gildan is a leading supplier of quality branded basic family apparel, including T-shirts, fleece, sport shirts, socks and underwear. It is a major competitor with Hanesbrands Inc. of Winston-Salem, which closed Monday on its $583 million purchase of Maidenform Brands Inc.
The state's incentive commitment to Gildan is $3.49 million over 12 years from the Job Development Investment Grant program. Those incentives typically are available only to companies considering out-of-state options for facilities.
The Golden Leaf Foundation is providing a $1 million grant to Davie County to buy machinery and equipment that Gildan will use at both plants. Gildan will lease the equipment from Davie similar to what Caterpillar Inc. is doing with its Winston-Salem plant.
The average annual salary for all the new hires will be about $32,270, plus benefits -- a plus to landing the projects given Gildan's overall focus on low production costs. Jobs will be posted at www.gildan.com or with local N.C. Division of Employment Security offices.
"These counties will provide the qualified workforce, energy and transportation infrastructure we will need for these plants to succeed," said Chuck Ward, president of Gildan Yarns and a Hickory native.
"Our investments in our yarn-spinning operations will support our projected sales growth and further reinforce our position as a global low-cost manufacturer."
Ward said the company expects to break ground on both plants within 60 to 90 days, with production expected to begin in the first or second quarter of 2015.
Even though it will take longer to build the plants than retrofit existing buildings, Ward said the latest yarn-spinning machines are bigger and longer, with different space needs than typically are available within former furniture and textile plants.
Ward, as well as local and state officials, said Gildan chose to build the two 500,000-square-foot plants in different counties in large part because of the availability of two different power sources -- Energy United in Davie and Duke Energy in Rowan.
Analysts have said that as labor and production expenses rise in China and other Asian and Central American countries, more manufacturers are putting more weight on accessing dependable U.S. power sources rather than relying on generator-powered overseas plants.
Robert Van Geons, executive director of Rowan Works, praised what he called "coopera-tation" -- a blending of cooperation amid regional competition -- for the counties landing the projects.
"Gildan has embraced new technology as a differentiating competitive force," Van Geons said. "They are looking ahead of the curve so they can not only compete, but prosper, with U.S. and N.C. manufacturing.
"They are given these two counties an opportunity for people to work closer to home and to have a chance at advancement in their careers."
Terry Bralley, president of the Davie Economic Development Commission, asked, "Who would have ever thought that furniture (Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.) and textiles (Gildan) is leading the path to bringing manufacturing jobs back to North Carolina and Davie County?"
The Gildan expansion also includes adding yarn-spinning production in Bladen and Rowan counties. Gildan is renovating a former PGT Windows plant in Salisbury for a $43 million yarn-spinning plant. The company said i