North Carolina textile executives spanning the fiber, yarn, fabric and finished product textile industries participated in a roundtable discussion with Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) on Tuesday, discussing the achievements and competitiveness of the domestic industry and outlining priority issues in Washington that impact their operations.
The roundtable discussion, hosted by Unifi Inc. and sponsored by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), was held at Unifi’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. North Carolina is the second largest state employer of textile-related jobs, with more than 30,000 jobs in 2021, according to U.S. government data. The state’s $2.7 billion in textile-related exports leads the nation.
NCTO noted that Manning’s visit came at a pivotal time for the U.S. textile supply chain, which produced $65.2 billion in output in 2021 and employed nearly 535,000 workers. The industry has been at the forefront of domestic manufacturing of over 1 billion personal protective equipment (PPE) items during the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the roundtable, executives showcased the industry’s important contribution to the state and the U.S. economy, as well as its advanced sustainability initiatives, while outlining critical policies, such as the importance of Buy American and Berry Amendment government procurement policies, maintaining strong rules of origins in free trade agreements, supporting a domestic PPE production sector and the need to address larger systemic trade issues with China.
“Unifi was thrilled to host Rep. Manning with other NCTO leaders today at our Greensboro headquarters,” Unifi CEO Eddie Ingle said. “We appreciate the time and consideration she gives to the critical issues in Washington that affect our workers and investment here in North Carolina and the entire region.”
Manning said in North Carolina, the textile industry is “woven into the very fabric of our state and economy, with more than 33,000 workers employed in over 600 textile manufacturing facilities across the state.”
“In Congress, I am committed to supporting our homegrown industry by making PPE in America, protecting the yarn forward rule of origin in our trade agreements and cracking down on China’s unfair trade practices,” she said. “I am thrilled to engage with industry leaders in my district, as we discuss ways to grow the U.S. textile industry and the critical role that textile manufacturers play in our local, state and national economy.”
NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas said Manning engaged in substantive discussions around policies that help bolster U.S. manufacturing, while hearing directly from executives about the challenges confronting the industry.
“The diverse U.S. textile industry is technically advanced and highly innovative and provides jobs to local communities in North Carolina and across the country,” Glas said. “It is imperative that we have sound trade and government procurement policies that help the U.S. industry continue to grow jobs and contribute to the overall U.S. economy. We look forward to continuing to work with the congresswoman on policies that will help drive more onshoring and nearshoring to the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere, support strong government procurement policies centered around American-made products and lead to strong enforcement of illegal trade practices.”
Manning’s office said in Congress, she is committed to supporting efforts that boost American manufacturing. In 2021, Manning sent a letter to President Biden urging the prioritization of American manufacturing to help bolster domestic production of PPE.
North Carolina’s Sixth District that she represents is home to several manufacturers equipped to produce PPE, including Precision Fabrics, which Manning visited last year, her office noted. Following her letter, Biden signed a “Buy American” executive order to bolster American-made PPE manufacturing.