FEDTEX 2023 Supports Strong Textile Legacy in North Carolina
Scott Dorney, Executive DirectorNorth Carolina Military Business Center
The defense industry is the second largest segment of North Carolina’s economy after agriculture and is the home to more textile manufacturers (600+) than any other state in America.
The fact that North Carolina has earned the designation of “Defense Manufacturing Communities” shows the confidence the Department of Defense (DoD) has that North Carolina can respond to national priorities for textile soldier systems, including individual and unit tactical gear, uniforms, and personal protective equipment.
North Carolina is fortunate to have academic resources like the North Carolina State University Wilson College of Textiles and other partner agencies that are well-suited to address military requirements in the areas of advanced yarns and fabrics, topical fabric treatments, innovative smart textiles, and wearables. Read MoreThey accomplish this through a centralized approach of educating, identifying, and recruiting manufacturing partners and technical resources.
The Federal and Defense Textile Summit (FEDTEX) hosted open dialogs between the brightest in textile academia, textile manufacturers, and textile suppliers together with the US DoD (Department of Defense) and federal agencies. This event was co-hosted by the Offices of US Senator Thom Tillis, US Senator Ted Budd, the North Carolina Military Business Center (NCMBC), and the North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office (DEFTECH).
FEDTEX was held at the McKimmon Conference Center at North Carolina State University on May 23-24, 2023. The website is https://fedtex.ncmbc.us/. This event was open to all existing US textile DoD and federal contractors, textile suppliers, plus other companies that are interested in learning how to grow their businesses while satisfying the needs of our warfighters. The business case opportunity is real. As an example, in FY 2021, the Defense Logistics Agency (Clothing and Textiles) procured over 50,000 textile-related line items of textile products equating to $2.3 billion in awards to manufacturers.
Most textile procurements are protected by the Berry and Kissell Amendments – a protection for US textile manufacturers. These laws are in place for DoD procurements and are intended to ensure textiles (including uniforms, footwear, and other textile-related equipment) are fully American-made. Compliance requires that not just final products, but all materials and supplies that go into making the final product are sourced from the US. That means, for example, a uniform must be from US-sourced fibers/yarns woven into US textile fabric, then cut, sewn, and assembled with buttons, braid, and snaps all from US origin. Even though this creates its own supply chain challenges, the Berry and Kissell amendments also provide “quite the advantage” for US-based manufacturers.
FEDTEX attendees heard briefs and had open social dialogs with senior leadership from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the US Army Program Executive Office (PEO Soldier), the US Army Combat Development Command Soldier Center (DEVCOM), Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC), procurement officials from every military branch, as well as other prime federal agencies.
The FEDTEX agenda highlights included textile technology innovations with military applications, hosting in-depth tours of the Woven and Nonwoven facilities at North Carolina State University Wilson College of Textiles, a mini trade show and networking social forum, a business economic forecast brief, procurement requirement briefs from each military service and specific commodity product breakout sessions. There was open dialog on procurement challenges such as workforce, inflation, and the supply chain.
About the NC Military Business CenterThe North Carolina Military Business Center (NCMBC) is a business development entity of the North Carolina Community College System, headquartered at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC). The mission of the NCMBC is to leverage military and other federal business opportunities to expand the economy, grow jobs and improve the quality of life in North Carolina. The NCMBC’s primary goal is to increase federal revenues for businesses in North Carolina. The Department of Defense has an annual impact of $80 billion and is the second largest sector of North Carolina’s economy (12% GDP). With six major military bases, 116 National Guard, 40 Army Reserve facilities, and the third-highest number of uniformed military personnel in the country, the State of North Carolina created the NCMBC to leverage opportunities with these installations, DoD commands, and federal agencies operating worldwide.