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Medical safety gear production in NC gets $300K boost

Eulalia Francisco, a sewer at Opportunity Threads in Morganton, North Carolina, is one of 600 regional sewers mobilized by The Industrial Commons to produce medical safety gear. | photo: ARC

The Industrial Commons in Morganton, NC, will receive $300,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to use for materials and to coordinate staff to manufacture needed medical safety gear to fulfill increased product demand across the Appalachian Region and the nation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Industrial Commons, and its enterprise the Carolina Textile District, will use nearly 600 sewers across 60 textile and furniture companies to cut, sew, and produce thousands of general-use facemasks and medical-grade gowns each week.

The equipment will primarily go to hospitals and social services agencies across the region and the country. Orders have already been placed from New York, and several locations in North Carolina.

Distribution will be coordinated by The Industrial Commons from a previously-underused warehouse at an EJ Victor Furniture factory in Morganton.

“During this crisis, I am pleased ARC is investing to produce protective equipment enabling the health and safety of those in our communities, including medical personnel,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “I commend The Industrial Commons and the Carolina Textile District for stepping up to take on this challenge.”

The Carolina Textile District (CTD) is a network of textile-related companies and manufacturers committed to building a domestic value-chain to bolster the region’s textile industry

"This grant will cover critical expenses, like purchasing bulk raw materials and operating the distribution site, that are making it possible to produce these medical supplies through a consortium of manufacturers," said Sara Chester, Co-Executive Director, The Industrial Commons. "We have so many people to thank—most importantly—the manufacturers who are pulling together and re-tooling to meet this need.”