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Walmart Foundation and Mayors Fund Innovations in US Textile Manufacturing

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Five universities will now be able to further their work focused on innovations in textile manufacturing thanks to grants from the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The grants were awarded as part of the U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund that the Walmart Foundation and Mayors launched in March 2014. The fund will provide $10 million in grants over the course of five years for advancing domestic manufacturing or assembly of consumer products stateside.

Grant recipients were chosen based on their ability to address two current—and key—challenges: reducing the cost of domestic textile manufacturing for apparel and home textiles; and improving manufacturing processes for multiple consumer products.

“Through these grants we hope to help remove the barriers to revitalizing and growing U.S. apparel manufacturing, while creating more sustainable production processes,” Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart, said.

Thursday’s award announcement marked the second round of funding under the grant, and the 2016 winners are:

  • Clemson University, Endorsed by Greenville Mayor Knox H. White, for energy and effluent reduction through innovative dyeing of polyester fabrics
  • Oregon State University, Endorsed by Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber, for environmentally conscious dyeing of fabrics using continuous digital printing and drying of biopigment inks
  • University of Texas at Austin, Endorsed by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, for on-loom fabric defect inspection using contact image sensors
  • North Carolina State University, Endorsed by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, for developing a non-stop tying-in process/approach to improve weaving efficiency
  • Cornell University, Endorsed by Ithaca Mayor Svante L. Myrick, for recycling post-consumer textile waste and a raw material substitute for new textiles

“America’s mayors work every day to create good jobs for the people who live in our cities and metro areas. The five projects we’ve recognized today will lead to manufacturing jobs in their respective cities and eventually, across the country,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Walmart wants to revitalize American manufacturing, and according to a statement, from the Conference of Mayors, “The commitments represent a significant investment that will help accelerate the pace of U.S. manufacturing. By making production in the U.S. more cost-effective and efficient, the global retailer believes it can bring American consumers more American-made products and ultimately create jobs in communities across the country.”

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