EDEN — Textile giant Gildan Activewear tightened its weave with the community Wednesday by announcing a $17 million investment in an expansion to its yarn spinning operation here and the creation of 85 jobs.

Hiring has already begun and new workers should crank up the mill by January, Gildan officials said Tuesday during a press conference at Eden City Hall.

The Montreal-based corporation will fill a spinning facility at 335 Summit Road that was vacated last year by the India-based SgrTex, said Eden and Gildan officials.

“We’re in the process of investing about $5 million to revamp the facility and bring it up to Gildan standards,’’ said Gildan Yarn's President Chuck Ward, explaining Gildan purchased the Summit Road building, land and spinning equipment out of receivership in September.

Ward said Rockingham County workers will get the chance to operate in a “modern facility’’ with “equipment that’s been minimally used.’’

The new positions will pay up to $37,707, while the county's average annual wage is $34,716, Gildan officials said in a news release. 

Gildan, a leading apparel manufacturer, operates spinning facilities in North Carolina and Georgia, employing roughly 1,400 people. The new operation will be the corporation's fifth spinning facility in North Carolina, with others in Mocksville, Mebane and Salisbury.

A major corporate force in Eden, Gildan built it's first large scale distribution center in Eden in 2000. The expansion marks Gildan's seventh U.S. spinning mill. 

“… We’re proud to be a part of this community,’’ Ward said. “North Carolina’s been good to us. It supplies us with a qualified workforce, with competitive energy rates, and a really good transportation network …  one of the most important things to our success going forward. So we’re excited to further invest here. And to restart a facility that closed in this community … ’’

A $250,000 performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Gildan Yarn’s new operation in Rockingham County by providing a financial boost to local government in its effort to attract corporate investors. 

Gildan yarn is woven into well-known brands, such as Under Armour, Gold Toe, American Apparel, peds, Silks, kushyfoot, Alstyle, Comfort Colors and Secret. 

Eden’s Director of Economic Development Mike Dougherty is relieved to see the Summit Road plant made vital again.

“To say this property has put us on an interesting journey over the last year and a half would be the understatement of the century,’’ Dougherty joked during the press conference.

“They started out in the year 2000 in a 2000-square-foot distribution center on Meadow Road,'' he said. "(With) this facility,  they will be up to 2.2 million square feet in four Eden facilities that employ about 600 people.''

Dougherty thanked the city’s largest private sector employer for its steadfast investment in the community, calling Gildan a “generous corporate citizen'' that provides healthy sponsorship to Eden events and activities.

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Susie C. Spear is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. She can be reached at 743-333-4101 and on Twitter @SusieSpear_RCN.​

Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. He can be reached at 336-349-4331 ext. 6139.

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