The International Textile Group (ITG), which includes the denim production giants of Cone Denim and Burlington, is going through some interesting changes. Cone closed two factories in the US late last year, leaving their Greensboro (North Carolina) White Oak plant their only domestic denim factory.
Then yesterday the ITG announced their investment agreement with the Nicaragua government for Cone to build a massive denim plant with 28 million yards capacity. The plant itself represents an investment equaling roughly to 2% of Nicaragua's total annual GDP, according to the country's Minister of Development, Industry and Trade, Alejandro Arguello.
ITG's Chairman, Wilbur Ross, says, "By building a world-class Cone Denim plant in the region, we are fulfilling a commitment to all the countries and all our customers throughout Central America to ensure that this region remains an attractive and successful sourcing option for our denim jeans customers for years to come."
Of course we can hear echoes of the CAFTA mating call in there. Do I have to say free trade plus cheap labor is particularly sexy in our current, ultra competitive denim environment?
Although (or because) the plant is projected to employ over 700 Nicaraguans ITG's move is expected to fuel the ongoing debate over globalization. Regardless, the plant is expected to open its doors in mid-2007 in the Jorge Bolanos Abaunza Textile Park in Managua.
ITG Press Release (PDF)