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Vidalia Denim, aka Project Blue, buying Fruit of the Loom facility
from Staff Reports - NEWS
July 20, 2018 -

Press release from Natchez, Inc. and its partners:

VIDALIA, La. — Today, the Town of Vidalia and Vidalia Denim finalized documents on the project referred to as Project Blue, a project which began developing in May of 2016 shortly after the announcement that Fruit of the Loom would be closing their distribution facility. Project Blue, the economic development project name for Vidalia Denim, will operate a 24/7 textile manufacturing facility that will create a minimum of 300 full time jobs paying an average annual wage of $30,000 plus a benefits package, and will invest $50 million into this project.

“We’re happy to welcome Vidalia Denim into our community,” said Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to diversify our industry base with an additional manufacturer, and we are fortunate to have an adequate building and infrastructure to support their business needs. It was difficult to hear the news that Fruit of the Loom was vacating Vidalia, but we have found the silver lining with the investment of Vidalia Denim and the creation of 300 quality jobs in our community. I am confident that our residents, along with the regional labor force, will provide Vidalia Denim with a competent and hardworking team to meet their production goals.”

Vidalia Denim, the brand of Vidalia Industrial Facilities, LLC (VIF) has purchased from the Town of Vidalia, the 900,000 square foot building formerly occupied by Fruit of the Loom until the site closed in 2017. Upon the departure of Fruit of the Loom all assets on the publicly owned property reverted to the Town; therefore, the Town has had ownership of the building and wastewater treatment facilities since that time. Vidalia Industrial Facilities is purchasing the manufacturing facility, an on-site wastewater treatment facility, and 74 acres from the Town of Vidalia for $12 million. In exchange for job performance by Vidalia Denim and the new economic activity generated by the project, the city will grant $8 million back to the company for approved capital improvements to the site. Vidalia Denim will immediately begin upgrading the facility to meet their needs and expect operations to begin in the second quarter of 2019.

“We have been looking for an ideal site for about two years, and the Vidalia site was by far the best site for our project,” said Dan Thompson, Vidalia Denim’s executive vice president for manufacturing. “The available building has the existing infrastructure we needed, and when combined with the strong workforce in the region already in place, as well as the close proximity to cotton crops for our key raw material, we knew this location was primed and ready for us to locate this project. Putting a project together of this magnitude is not easy and Mayor Buz Craft of Vidalia, Natchez Inc., and Concordia Economic Development have been very instrumental to making this project a reality.”

The Vidalia Denim facility is expected to feature advanced technologies and processes that will eliminate waste and create a more environmentally sustainable manufacturing process. Vidalia Denim will purchase raw cotton, which it will then spin, dye and weave into the denim fabric. The company will ship the denim material to other manufacturers that produce labeled blue jeans. Louisiana and Mississippi sourced cotton from farmers will be used to supply the production of denim. The facility will produce high end denim including stretch and dual core stretch denim. Stretch denim contains a synthetic fiber of Lycra, to provide comfort and allow jeans to retain shape. Dual Core denim is made with Lycra and a polyester strand wrapped in cotton, providing additional stretch support to aid movement and to prevent jeans from becoming baggy during wear. The facility will have the latest dyeing and finishing equipment to produce smaller lots for the high end premium jean manufacturers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing loan support through its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program to spur economic development and job creation in Concordia Parish. Through the program, Vidalia Industrial Facilities will receive a $25 million loan from Jefferson Financial Federal Credit Union to purchase, renovate and equip the textile facility. In addition to the USDA B&I Guaranteed Loan Program, the Small Business Administration is also providing support through their loan guarantee program. Through that program, VIF will receive a $5,000,000 loan from Greater Nevada Credit Union for additional equipment and working capital.

“At USDA Rural Development, the opportunity to invest $25 million to support creating 300 jobs in a persistent poverty parish with an unemployment rate that is 150 percent of the state’s average is an honor,” said Dr. Carrie Castille, USDA Rural Development state director. “With the repurposing of the Fruit of Loom plant that had been shuttered for several years, the people of Vidalia will have the chance to welcome a new manufacturer to the Delta and bring back jobs that had previously left this historically impoverished area.”

“Concordia Economic Development is proud to aid in establishing new business growth and bringing new jobs to Vidalia and Concordia Parish,” said Chairman Richard Young of Concordia Economic Development. “We will continue to work with the Town of Vidalia and Vidalia Denim to carry out the agreement between all parties. The work has only begun, and we look forward to a continued partnership with Natchez Inc. and our local governing bodies, as well as our regional and state organizations who have all played a vital role in recruiting Vidalia Denim to our community.”

“Natchez Inc. has enjoyed working with Vidalia Denim, the Town of Vidalia and Concordia Economic Development to make this project a reality,” said Executive Director Chandler Russ of Natchez Inc. “Vidalia Denim’s commitment to generate a minimum $9 million annual payroll will improve our average annual wages in Concordia Parish and the Miss-Lou Region. Vidalia Denim, a textile manufacturer, is allowing our labor force to diversify its skill-sets to a new type of industry. We are excited to have a local manufacturer utilize raw material from our Delta agricultural lands to produce a fabric that will be worn worldwide.”

“Congratulations to Concordia Parish on this important announcement for Central Louisiana,” said President and CEO Jim Clinton of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “Concordia’s parish and municipal leadership have worked hard to build economic opportunity for their citizens. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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