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CFDA and NYC Ready to Spend on US Manufacturing Innovation

The Fashion Manufacturing Initiative Grant Program, a $6 million public-private partnership funded by the New York City Economic Development Corp. and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is now accepting applications through Aug. 24 for the fifth round of program.

The FMI Grant Program allows fashion production facilities to grow through the acquisition of innovative equipment, advanced technology, workforce training, business consulting services, relocation costs and capital improvements.

In addition to NYCEDC, the FMI Grant Program is made possible through the support of partners and underwriters such as Andrew Rosen, Theory, The Coach Foundation, and Ralph Lauren, as well as preferred vendors Gerber, Lectra and Optitex.

Since 2013, the FMI Grant Program has awarded $2.3 million in grants to 22 factories across the five boroughs of New York City. The grants and matching investments, totaling $3.9 million to date, have facilitated innovative and cutting-edge acquisitions, including body scanning technology, thermal bonding machinery and 3-D design software.

Seven New York City-based fashion production companies are set to receive nearly $750,000 in grants to purchase advanced manufacturing equipment and other operational materials and services. Over $2.3 million FMI grants have been distributed to date to spur technological advancement and innovation in local fashion manufacturing.

In April, the fourth round of grant recipients of FMI were announced. This year’s grant recipients are HC Contracting Inc., a full-production manufacturer located in New York City’s Garment District that offers a wide variety of sewn goods services; Create-a-Marker, a computerized grading and marking company; Design Incubator, which develops designs for several major fashion houses in New York City and helps emerging designers launch their new businesses; Funtastic Furs, an atelier that helps develop, sample and produce fur accessories and apparel; New York Binding Co., a fourth-generation family business provider of binding, pleating, slitting and trimming services; Zoila’s Sample Room, which offers precise alterations and samples for garment production, and New York Embroidery Studio, a full-service textile manipulation and garment decoration studio.

FMI’s aim is to grow local, sustainable and successful fashion production and propel American fashion forward by awarding matching grants to eligible companies to help fortify local manufacturing by improving business services through innovation, advanced technology and business development. The program also highlights these companies on the CFDA’s New York City Production Database, and includes industry networking events and collaborative partnerships.

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To be eligible for the grant program, a company or designer must be in business for a minimum of two consecutive years, must be located in one of the five boroughs of New York City, have support and business from key fashion designers/brands, and have staff and internal capacity required to accomplish the stated goals of the applicant.

[Read more about Made in America: Made in America is Back and Finding a New Path]

Cal McNeil, senior associate of strategic partnerships at the CFDA, said, “The support from all levels of the fashion ecosystem has been a core factor for the success of the FMI program. Fashion brands, the local NYC administration, our partners and key industry stakeholders alike have all come together with a common goal of nurturing local manufacturing, as well as the entrepreneurs and skilled workers who work within it. We’ve expanded our network of factories since the inception of FMI and in turn, we’ve seen a consistent growth of applicants each round of the Grant Fund, and overall engagement from the community at large.”

McNeil said between the FMI Grant Fund, NYC Production Directory, national partnerships with Barneys New York, Banana Republic and Macy’s, and events, factory showcases and apparel skills training courses, the program “has been able to create a more consistent conversation around Made in New York and Made in America.”

He said, “Within our network of designers, there has been a growth of brands that are considering and implementing more local production channels in both the apparel and jewelry categories. We’ve seen proven impact on the local industry through this program and hope that will expand in to other markets.”

New York City’s fashion industry accounts for about 5 percent of the city’s workforce, paying $11 billion in wages and generating nearly $2 billion in City tax revenue annually. The city’s semi-annual Fashion Week’s create a total economic impact of about $900 million in revenue to the city.

All this begs the question of where does the program and Made in New York and America go from here.

“A large focus on enabling continued advancement of technology and innovation within manufacturing will grow with the program, as well as aiming our efforts at workforce development for the next generation of skilled workers,” McNeil added. “With our expanding CFDA membership in the Greater Los Angeles area, our level of support for that fashion community grows. We are beginning to implement similar programs for the West Coast under the manufacturing arm of CFDA and are looking forward to exploring opportunities with brands and companies who share the goal of replicating the success we’ve seen in New York City.”