Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Investment in America’s only standalone textile college safeguards American textile manufacturing.

With 700 textile manufacturing facilities and over 35,000 workers, North Carolina’s textile mill industry is one of the largest in the U.S., a reputation that North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles has helped build since 1899. 

Students celebrate Frederick Eugene Wilson Jr.'s endowment to North Carolina State University's college of textiles, now named the Wilson College of Textiles. The Wilson College of Textiles is America's only remaining college solely dedicated to the study of textiles. | North Carolina State University

Thanks to a former student's generous donation, the college continues to serve as a hub for cutting-edge textile research and development, and as a supplier of workforce talent. 

The school announced a $28 million gift, the largest gift in the college’s history, from alumnus Frederick Eugene Wilson Jr. and his family on Nov. 2. In the family’s honor, the school was renamed the Wilson College of Textiles. 

Wilson emphasized that his gift demonstrates his faith in the future of U.S. manufacturing:

“When we were talking to the chancellor about the college and about it being the only college of textiles remaining in the U.S., a light bulb really went off. Somebody’s got to draw a line in the sand. We’ve got to remember what got us here and recognize where we can go in the future. I’m happy that we could be the ones to do that.”

The Wilson College of Textiles is the only American college exclusively dedicated to the study of textiles and frequently partners with manufacturers and federal agencies, sponsoring the growth of manufacturing jobs throughout the state and country.

“The Wilson family’s donation will benefit not just North Carolinians, but the entire U.S. textile supply chain,” National Council of Textile Organizations Chairman and North Carolina State University graduate Marty Moran said.  

Though the exodus of manufacturing from America in past decades led to the shutdown of many U.S. textile companies, new technology has made domestic manufacturing more and more attractive. In 2017, the U.S. textile industry supply chain employed 550,500 workers and was the fourth-largest exporter of textile-related products in the world.

A resurgence of textile manufacturing appears close at hand, but training and research centers like the Wilson College of Textiles will play a critical role in ensuring future growth.