BROOKLYN — Apparel manufacturing in New York, long considered on the endangered-species list, received a major transfusion on Thursday and could be set for a serious revival with the help of City Hall and the injection of a fresh entrepreneurial spirit.
Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, in unveiling a $3.5 million investment in the Manufacturing Innovation Hub for Apparel, Textiles & Wearable Tech, an innovative fashion manufacturing and design hub in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, said City Hall wants to take the concept into all five boroughs.
Located at the privately operated Liberty View Industrial Plaza, the Manufacturing Innovation Hub, initiated through the New York City Economic Development Corp., will occupy 160,000 square feet to provide research, design, development and manufacturing resources for New York’s emerging designers and apparel manufacturers.
“We are focused on making investments that are going to spur innovation, create good jobs and keep New York City competitive,” Glen said. “Fashion and manufacturing aren’t just legacy industries, they are rapidly evolving parts of our economy that are adapting new technologies and changing every day. Here in Sunset Park, working with our private-sector partners, we’re ensuring companies at the cutting edge of these industries can grow and innovate right here in New York City.”
Kyle Kimball, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp., said, “The creation of the Manufacturing Innovation Hub represents the nexus of our efforts to support two key elements of the City’s economy — the manufacturing sector and the fashion industry — and to develop Sunset Park as a hotbed of innovative business.”
The Manufacturing Innovation Hub builds upon the city’s suite of fashion efforts, including the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, a public-private program designed to support and promote the growth of small businesses in the fashion and manufacturing sectors, as well as seed funding for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Incubator. Stressing the importance of the fashion industry, Glen noted that it accounts for six percent of the city’s workforce, paying $11 billion in wages. Overall, the industry garners more than $18 billion in retail sales, $72 billion in wholesale sales and $8 billion in manufacturing sales annually.
“The Manufacturing Innovation Hub is part of a broader economic strategy,” Glen said. “Fashion manufacturing already accounts for 31 percent of all manufacturing in the city, and these are quality jobs. We want to do everything we possibly can to invest in the skills necessary to continue to grow the industry. We want every fashion sector and every borough in the city to become part of this amazing story.”
The project is part of the NYCEDC’s Industrial Modernization Initiative created in partnership with the City Council to encourage growth in the manufacturing sector. Another $8 million is available through IMOD, with future allocations to be determined.
The Manufacturing Innovation Hub will also be the new headquarters of Manufacture New York, which is relocating from elsewhere within Liberty View Industrial Plaza after initially operating a pilot fashion incubator in Manhattan’s Garment Center.
“Two and half years ago, I could never have imagined this day would come,” said Bob Bland, Manufacture New York founder and chief executive officer. “I truly believe that by bringing together the key stakeholders of each portion of New York City…we can create a better future for [the industry]…This is only the beginning. If you want to be more involved, get involved. Inclusivity is the name of the game here — competition is dead. It’s about all of us working together and creating a future that previously we only dreamed of and we can do it here. We chose this location because we believe in South Brooklyn, we believe in Sunset Park and Red Hook. There’s an enormous amount of talent and creativity and hard-working folks here who deserve good middle-class jobs, great workforce-training programs and a chance to build a wonderful future right here…and we look forward to working with them.”
The facility is expected to be operational in about 18 months and eventually involve about 30 companies and 50 designers to create or retain about 300 jobs.