By Nelson D. Schwartz
Published Jan. 5, 2022 Updated Jan. 6, 2022
When visitors arrive at the office of America Knits in tiny Swainsboro, Ga., the first thing they see on the wall is a black-and-white photo that a company co-founder, Steve Hawkins, discovered in a local antiques store.
It depicts one of a score of textile mills that once dotted the area, along with the workers who toiled on its machines and powered the local economy. The scene reflects the heyday — and to Mr. Hawkins the potential — of making clothes in the rural South.
Companies like America Knits will test whether the United States can regain some of the manufacturing output it ceded in recent decades to China and other countries. That question has been contentious among workers whose jobs were lost to globalization. But with the supply-chain snarls resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, it has become intensely tangible from the consumer viewpoint as well.
Mr. Hawkins’s company, founded in 2019, has 65 workers producing premium T-shirts from locally grown cotton. He expects the work force to increase to 100 in the coming months. If the area is to have an industrial renaissance, it is so far a lonely one. “I’m the only one, the only crazy one,” Mr. Hawkins said. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE