As part of their ongoing effort to try to rev up local production, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have earmarked $14 million for a Local Production Fund and workforce development programming. The effort is part of the $51.3 million support package that was revealed in 2017 by the EDC, the CFDA and the Garment District Alliance for the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative.
The EDC has earmarked $7 million for the just-unveiled $14 million efforts, but that contribution is a continuation of the grant fund. In addition to the CFDA, FMI’s founding partners are Andrew Rosen and Ralph Lauren, with additional support provided by Wal-Mart, DHL, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Première Vision and SwatchOn among others. An EDC spokesman did not say how many companies are expected to benefit from the first round of the new pilot grant program.
The LPF aims to encourage U.S. designers to ramp up New York City production by teaming them with New York City-based factories. The program is open to all manufacturers in all five boroughs and all U.S. designers. Once the manufacturers are selected they will receive credits to be used for production runs of participating designers. The plan is to create more local consistent production and accelerate the use of technology that was invested in through the existing FMI Grant Fund. Applications for manufacturers will be offered later this fall and ones for designers will be presented in February.
The CFDA will form a committee to award the LPF grants with involvement from the EDC. Rosen, an unnamed Ralph Lauren executive and others, who have been supportive of the FMI and who have been involved with production in New York will serve on the committee, according to the CFDA’s president and chief executive officer Steven Kolb.
For the workforce development strategy, the CFDA is partnering with the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center to assess the sector in order to create customized programs based on citywide needs. During what is expected to be a six-month assessment, the CFDA and ISAIC will work with an undetermined number of local community-based organizations to size up the landscape before executing the programming. To foster future talent, they hope to create opportunities for technical instruction, apprenticeships and advanced technology training. There are also plans to offer workforce programs for manufacturers’ employees with varying backgrounds, experience and education.
Yeohlee Teng said, “They should boldly go forth and make the necessary initiatives that will ensure a real future for the industry. The way that we make clothes and operate as an industry is undergoing stress and is in a state of great change. So anything that they can do in anticipation of that change and to ensure a future for the workers would be very helpful.”
The Pratt Center for Community Development’s executive director Adam Friedman was at the Fashion Institute of Technology for today’s Manufacturing Day, which is also the curtain raiser for the inaugural Made in NYC Week. Factory tours, a talk at Pratt’s Canal Street pop-up and a MINYC outpost at the Hester Street Fair are part of the events planned. He said via e-mail, “It is brilliant. When you think of the obstacles and just the inhibitions that designers have in investing the time upfront to investigate local production, this is designed exactly to get around that problem. We should be looking at other sectors [of businesses] for doing this.”
Fortifying local production has received more attention following the The Garment District’s rezoning that was approved by the New York City Council last December. Independent of the LPF, the GDA has as much as $25 million to fund programs that support manufacturing and fashion production in the area over the next 10 years. This summer the Garment District Alliance’s 12-member special program committee reviewed 22 proposals geared toward rejuvenating local apparel manufacturing. The first round of funding for that financing has not yet been revealed.
Asked when the first recipients would be announced and when the special program committee will hold its next meeting, the GDA’s executive director Barbara Blair deferred comment to a GDA spokeswoman, who said there are no updates to report at this time.