The push for Made in the USA apparel and footwear notched another victory earlier this month when Shloop, a startup shoe company with Atlanta-area origins said it will be opening a manufacturing facility in nearby Meridian.
“We’re starting internally; proving to the world what we can make here in Mississippi,” co-founder Ryan Hunt told WKO-TV. “We’re out to prove we can make a highly desirable product in a more sustainable way than in Asia, and we’re hoping to open that to big brand partners, too.”
Production at the facility is expected to start by the beginning of 2024. The 30,000-square-foot plant, built with a $9 million investment, according to a state economic development press release, is expected to produce 56 jobs in the town of 34,000 that sits 93 miles to the east of the Mississippi capital.
“It is exciting to have Shloop located in downtown Meridian,” Meridian Mayor Jimmy Smith said. “This new business not only brings investments and jobs to our city, but it also gives new life to a building that has a great history. The city of Meridian looks forward to working with Ryan Hunt and other Shloop leadership as the company grows.”
Shloop, aka The Shoe Loop, will be housed in a circa 1930’s bakery building comprising 30,000 square feet of space in downtown Meridian and will manufacture footwear in a more sustainable manner using renewable energy, recycled materials, advanced molding and shoe recycling technologies, the company said in a press release. The Mississippi Development Authority, along with city and county governments, is providing assistance with building renovations and upgrades.
“Shloop is another fantastic example of a Mississippi-grown company bringing innovation to the global marketplace,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said. “Entrepreneurs like the team at Shloop are key to the dynamic economic environment in Mississippi that is driving manufacturing and job creation. I greatly look forward to seeing their continued success and expansion in Meridian.”
According to the Shloop website, the company’s mission is “… pioneering a new local footwear manufacturing model that enables product recycling and circularity by starting with sustainable materials and providing end-of-life shoe recycling for brands and consumers.”
Hunt believes the factory can be an economic driver for the area by making sustainability a selling point.
“Through research, education and training of sustainable footwear production techniques and recycling options, we can stimulate the local economy through the creation of new career opportunities for artisans, designers, and technicians,” Hunt said.
3D printing capabilities, the company writes on its EquityNet crowdsourcing page, will be key to Shloop’s success.
“The equipment will use 3D printed molds, rapid change-over and reduced manufacturing steps to allow for same day production of multiple products scaling from prototyping to high velocity manufacturing at scale using the same platform,” the company said. “The 3DTI technology provides a local manufacturing solution with low environmental impact for small batches through to mass production for various product applications. The flexibility of volume allows production to match consumer trends on demand.”