In response to the impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has been offering assistance to a multitude of manufacturers and industries with each set of relief bills. However, while many sectors benefited from this support, one sector which did not receive much relief was the textile industry. Now, industry leaders are calling for the government to offer more post-pandemic support to help the field going forwards.
Last week, the president and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations Kim Glas testified on the ‘Supply Chain Resiliency and the Role of Small Manufacturers’ Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee, where she said that the industry had much to learn by studying the changes which were confronted during the pandemic. “As our country faced devastating challenges in responding to Covid-19 beginning last spring, US textile manufacturers stepped forward and answered America’s call during this time of crisis… [they] quickly mobilized to find innovative solutions to the crisis, proactively retooling production lines and retraining workers to provide US-made PPE to front-line medical workers.”
Despite still being committed to helping provide PPE for medical workers and the government, Glas said that the impact the pandemic had on small textile businesses can’t be overlooked. “Despite all their PPE production efforts, many US textile companies were confronted with idle capacity, rampant cancellation of orders, plant closures, and workers being furloughed at the height of the pandemic…Covid-19 has created unprecedented demand destruction for apparel and textiles. Billions of dollars of orders for fiber, yarn, and fabric were cancelled last year as retail shopping outlets were closed for many months and then operated at reduced capacity.”
In order to help the industry remain strong and not succumb to overseas textile and PPE production, Glas pushed for the committee to consider five key policy positions supported by many trade and labor groups. These policies include strengthening “Buy American” procedures, providing funding assistance to reconstitute supply lines, enacting key contracting reforms, streamlining the SBA loan process, and additional funds for workplace training.