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South Carolina’s textile industry undergoes changes

Industry News | December 1, 2008 | By:

South Carolina’s textile industry is changing but still dynamic, according to three studies released at an industry summit last week.

New Carolina (South Carolina’s Council on Competitiveness) held “The Future of Textiles in South Carolina” in Spartanburg recently; it attracted 100 business and economic development leaders from across the state. Industry leaders discussed the future of textiles and identified new ways to make the industry more competitive. Long an economic staple in South Carolina, the textiles industry is undergoing a massive restructuring across the globe.

Experts examined ways for companies to work together to build competitive advantages, shared ideas for networking to develop new products and new markets, and brainstormed methods to share information on technological advantages and how to improve the skills fo workers.

As part of the summit, New Carolina announced findings from three major research studies it had commissioned:

“The Contribution of the Textile and Apparel Cluster to the South Carolina Economy,”conducted by Clemson University researchers, shows that despite highly publicized plant closings, the industry is restructuring and becoming revitalized in South Carolina. The cluster is likely to have fewer skilled laborers during the next decade, but will pay higher wages and salaries within the companies that do prosper.

“South Carolina’s Textile and Apparel Industries: An Analysis of Trends in Traditional and Emerging Sectors,” also conducted by Clemson researchers, reveals that South Carolina’s textile industry has annual sales of approximately $21 billion, and that the state is home to several corporate headquarters. Every county in the state has at least one textile facility, and South Carolina has representation in each of three key textile business activities: pre-production, production and post-production.

“Improving the Global Market Competitiveness of the Textile Industry Cluster in South Carolina,”conducted by researchers from North Carolina State University, shows that South Carolina is currently home to 912 textile companies that employ almost 65,000 people.

The three studies provide an analysis of the current market, and also identify the next steps that will help the industry to thrive.

At the summit, New Carolina also launched a new Web resource for South Carolina’s textile industry:, featuring sections on the fabric, apparel, fiber, chemical, yarn and composites sectors, and profiling all textile and apparel companies in South Carolina.

“Contrary to a widely held belief, textiles are not dead in South Carolina,” says New Carolina Executive Director George Fletcher. “In reality, the industry is reinventing itself, becoming more high-tech and high-skill. South Carolina is in an ideal position to capitalize on the high-paying jobs that will come from this re-emerging industry.”

For the full text of the three textile reports presented at the summit, please visit

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