Investing in the Future of Manufacturing
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Garment District Alliance, today announced an unprecedented $51.3 million dollar package to help stabilize and strengthen the garment manufacturing industry in New York City.
The package will make investments in technology, business technical assistance and workforce development, which will be available to factories across the five boroughs. Relocation and expansion support will be available for companies that are interested in moving from the Garment District. Specifically, the support package focuses on four critical areas of intervention to support the declining industry:
- Modernization and Investment in Technology
- Through the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI), direct business grants for investment in new machinery and technology to improve business efficiency, foster innovation in production and increase global competitiveness
- Enhanced Workforce Development
- Support training pipeline that supplies industry with apprenticeships and entry-level and skilled workers
- Support career ladders for quality jobs
- Provide supervisory training
- Industry Organization and Technical Assistance
- Strengthen business-to-businesses (B2B) networking
- Provide business development support to increase efficiency and competiveness
- Real Estate Stability and Clustering
- Grants to cover relocation/ expansion and business disruption costs for businesses that want to move from the Garment Center to Sunset Park
- A suite of services to strengthen the growing Sunset Park cluster of garment manufacturers, including direct grants for employee transportation, courier service and tenant fit-out.
“Since taking office, we’ve invested in every piece of the fashion industry, from a new academic building at FIT, to marketing assistance, to renovating space in City-owned buildings for manufacturers. I’m committed not just to the stability of garment manufacturing, but to its growth. There’s a market and a demand for clothes that are Made in New York, and we’re taking bold steps to help firms move to the new space we’ve developed so they can grow and thrive. I’m thankful for the CFDA and Garment District Alliance for their support contributing to the evolution and future of this incredible industry,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.
“The CFDA is supportive of the City’s investment in the garment manufacturing industry and will join efforts to strengthen the sector for the future,” said Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the CFDA. “We see this as an opportunity to make the eco-system of production more city-wide at a time when the fashion industry is in need of a capital investment.”
“The Garment District Alliance is pleased to partner with NYCEDC and the CFDA to bring this package of meaningful supports to garment manufacturers. The future of the apparel industry is dependent upon the sustainability of the fashion ecosystem, and we believe this initiative will help to stabilize the apparel manufacturing sector that has been in decline for many years,” said Barbara Blair, President of the Garment District Alliance. “This program addresses the many challenges facing manufacturers by offering investment in technology and human capital, as well as options for affordable and modern factory spaces. We congratulate the De Blasio Administration for initiating this process.”
This robust package was developed after conducting substantial outreach to garment manufacturers, designers, showrooms/suppliers, and industry leaders to better understand the challenges that are crippling the industry today. Developed through one-on-one interviews, focus groups and site visits to Sunset Park, the package responds to the wide range of needs of the industry and aims to stabilize and strengthen this critical and historic NYC sector over a decade of investments. The City is continuing these outreach efforts to further refine the package in consultation with industry stakeholders through online and in-person surveys. NYCEDC is actively encouraging stakeholders to conduct the survey, which can be found here.
The $51M support package for the garment manufacturing industry builds on the City’s $15M investment to create the Made in NY: Fashion initiative which provides funding for education, production, financing and retail programming.
The CFDA and NYCEDC’s Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, which provides funding for new machinery and technology, will build on the success of its first four years and increase grant funding for factories in the five boroughs. NYCEDC will procure a third-party operator to develop and implement the remainder of the package of services through an RFP selection in the coming months.
History and Future of Garment Manufacturing in NYC
New York City’s garment manufacturing industry has lost 95% of its workforce since 1950 when the industry was at its peak. In the Garment Center alone, garment manufacturing jobs have declined by 83% since 1987, when the City put in place special zoning regulations to attempt to preserve garment manufacturing in the District.
Local garment manufacturing, a significant contributor to the city’s economy, is critical to the overall fashion industry and employs over 5% of NYC’s total workforce. Local garment manufacturing is competitive on quality, time, and convenience, and is equally important to emerging designers and established designers.
Today, there are approximately 1,500 garment manufacturing firms citywide, and about 30% of these businesses or approximately 400 firms are located in the Garment District. These companies face immense global competition and real estate pressure despite preservation attempts, including rising commercial rents and an outdated building stock that fail to meet modern industrial needs.
In the face of these challenges, garment manufacturers have begun to relocate to areas outside of the Garment District, such as Sunset Park, the second-largest garment manufacturing hub in the city that’s home to just over 100 firms. Sunset Park offers an abundance of modern industrial space that would provide garment manufacturers with longer-term leases and at more affordable rates.