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Sewn Products in Minnesota: Identifying Policy Influences on Industry Development and Fostering a Skilled Workforce

As manufacturers chased rock-bottom wages around the world, the U.S. sewn products manufacturing industry withered. Today, rising wages coupled with increasing demand for quick-response manufacturing have made this strategy less and less sustainable. Further, for in-growth categories like medical devices and wearable technology the necessary precision and quality is very difficult to achieve with remote production. An extreme scarcity of skilled tradespeople domestically has made it difficult for manufacturers to return production to the United States. This project will approach this problem from two sides: in partnership with The Minnesota Makers Coalition and the Industrial Fabrics Association International, this study will conduct a quantitative and qualitative survey of the Minnesota sewn products industry to establish its current size and product assortment as well as identify barriers to growth with implications for labor and economic policy. In addition, with the Minneapolis YWCA and North High School, this project will develop community-based initiatives to engage 6 to 12th grade students in sewn products careers and provide the foundation for skilled trades. Researcher: Lucy E. Dunne (Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel)

Project Award Date: 
Community organization or agency: 
Minnesota Makers Coalition, Industrial Fabrics Association International, Minneapolis YWCA, North High School
Sponsoring CURA Program: 
CURA Contact: 
Edward Goetz Director, CURA (612) 624-8737