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$14 Million to Boost ‘Competitiveness’ of Fashion Manufacturing in New York City

Made in New York just received a boost in funding and worker training to build momentum for local production.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) on Thursday announced the $14 million expansion of the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI), including a new pilot grant program, creation of the Local Production Fund, and an expanded workforce development program.

The Local Production Fund, available to all New York City-based fashion manufacturers, will encourage U.S. companies to increase their production in the city by matching them with manufacturers that have received credits to be used for production runs of participating designers.

The fund builds off the investment in innovative technology made through the existing FMI Grant Fund and is meant to bolster additional manufacturing innovation and build stronger relationships between designers and manufacturers, creating more consistent production in the city. Manufacturers are eligible to apply later this fall and the fund will begin accepting designer applications during February of next year.

In an effort to expand training and workforce development opportunities for the next generation of fashion manufacturing businesses and their workforce, the CFDA is partnering with the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) to assess the sector and report on customized programs built for New York’s workforce needs.

Many textile and apparel companies have cited the difficulty of finding trained workers as a key challenge to making Made in America manufacturing a larger part of their business.

The CFDA and ISAIC, a national sewn trades institute, will work with local organizations to evaluate the landscape during this assessment and throughout the execution of the program to ensure there is a talent pipeline by offering technical instruction, on-the-job training through apprenticeships, and advanced technology training. Workforce programs offered in partnership with manufacturers will be available to workers with diverse backgrounds, experience and education.

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“New York City’s iconic fashion industry has been reinvigorated by the first iteration of the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative and by more than doubling our investment today we are ensuring its continued success,” NYCEDC president and CEO James Patchett said. “The newly expanded program will allow for the growth of critical training and grant opportunities for its participants and continue to bolster fashion manufacturing in New York City.”

Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA, said the comprehensive suite of programming was designed to update the FMI to address the diverse and changing needs of New York City production.

“From building pipelines for new client growth to training workers to ensure retention and competitiveness in the workforce, the program will help solidify resources and development across the manufacturer’s entire business,” Kolb said.

In 2013, NYCEDC and CFDA launched the FMI’s Grant Fund to provide local production facilities with funding for equipment and technology upgrades, employees skills training, business development consultants, capital improvements to their facilities and relocation costs.

FMI has also included business development opportunities for grant recipients, such as subsidized industry trade show participation.

Between 2013 and 2019, the FMI Grant Fund awarded $3.5 million to 33 New York City fashion manufacturers to invest in and acquire new machinery and technologies that directly impacted their service offerings, increased clientele and improved business efficiency.

FMI is heavily supported by industry leaders, including founding partners Andrew Rosen and Ralph Lauren, and the initiative’s newest underwriter Walmart, with additional support from DHL, the CFDA’s official logistics partner, as well as the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Premiere Vision and SwatchOn.