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Media Advisory

Not for publication

May 18, 2005 -- No. 246

Local angles: Charlotte, Lenoir, Mount Holly, Spindale

Tar Heel Bus Tour to see key textile,
furniture manufacturing industry sites

Thursday, May 19

North Carolina’s textiles and furniture manufacturing industries will be the focus of the fourth day of the 2005 Tar Heel Bus Tour for 36 recent additions to the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and administration.

In Lenoir, participants will visit Broyhill Furniture, where they will learn about the importance of furniture manufacturing to the state’s economy. In Spindale, participants will hear how the closing of Stonecutter Mills affected the town of Spindale and the region. In Mount Holly, participants will hear how American & Efird textile mill has expanded its international operations while maintaining its headquarters in Mount Holly.

The day’s tour will conclude in Charlotte, where participants will enjoy a reception and dinner at the Levine Museum of the New South. Tour participant Dr. William Ferris, senior associate director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for the Study of the American South and co-editor of the "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture," will give a presentation.

Tour background:

The UNC-Chapel Hill group is traveling more than 1,000 miles this week in a classroom on wheels to learn about distinctly North Carolina topics ranging from tobacco and hog farming to an economy in transition. The tour is designed to teach about North Carolina’s people, geography, economy, culture, history, education system and health and social issues. The privately funded tour, which began in 1997, aims to help recent additions to the faculty and administration better understand the state where 82 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduates grow up. Participants learn about the university’s commitment to North Carolina and the people it serves. Many stops highlight UNC-Chapel Hill outreach projects. The participants also have opportunities to learn how their own research, teaching and public service can serve the state’s needs.

During the week, participants will also learn about a UNC-Chapel Hill project in Burlington that shares information about cancer prevention with women through hair salons; a light rail system expected to open in 2007 in Charlotte; growth in North Carolina’s Hispanic population (on a stop in Siler City); a support program for families of military reservists and National Guardsmen, a collaboration between UNC-Chapel Hill and the U.S. Department of Defense; wildlife ecology; a traveling science bus that helps UNC connect to the state’s schoolchildren; a tobacco and hog farm; and the lost colony of Manteo.

Carolina Connections: Caldwell County is home to 93 Carolina students and 511 alumni; Rutherford County, to 42 students and 396 alumni; Gaston County, to 229 students and 1,704 alumni; and Mecklenburg County, to 1,995 Carolina students and 14,710 alumni.

Thursday’s schedule, highlights:

8:30-10 a.m., Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc., One Broyhill Park, Lenoir

Participants will take a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing of furniture by Broyhill. North Carolina’s furniture industry has been a vital component of the state’s economy for more than a century. Yet China is building a momentum in this area that is crippling furniture manufacturing in the South. Another competitor is Las Vegas, which is cultivating a furniture industry that is openly vying with High Point to become the premier market of furniture nationwide.

A report released by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2003 proposed a plan for the state’s furniture industry to operate cost-efficiently while still employing state residents. The report, written by MBA students, analyzes some of the major reasons that U.S. case goods manufacturers have shifted production abroad and suggests several alternative solutions for the industry’s survival. To read it, visit www.kenan-flagler.unc.edu/Programs/MBA/Academics/stupaper.cfm.

Tom Broyhill, grandson of founder T.H. Broyhill and vice president of international and contract sales; and Karin Cook, media director, will be the hosts at Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc. Both are UNC-Chapel Hill graduates. Cook may be reached at KCook@Brohyillfurn.com.

11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m., Spencer Baptist Church, 207 North Oak St., Spindale

Stonecutter Mills textile plant was founded in 1920 and processed cotton, synthetics and blends until it was forced to shut down most of its operations in 2000. In January 2003, the plant announced that it would close its remaining operations. The result was a major loss in jobs for the town of Spindale.

Jim Cowan, chief executive officer of Stonecutter Mills, and Tim Barth, former Spindale town manager, will talk to participants about the overpowering economic pressures faced by mill towns statewide. Participants also will hear what UNC-Chapel Hill is doing to help the plant town recover. After lunch, bus tour participants will take a tour of the now-empty main plant.

Cowan, who has led the Stonecutter Mills Corp. since 1978, Barth and Dr. Jonathan Morgan, assistant professor of public administration and government in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government, will be the hosts for this part of the tour. Cowan may be reached at (828) 286-2341 or jcm_87@yahoo.com. Morgan may be reached at (919) 843-0972 or morgan@iogmail.iog.unc.edu.

2:30-4 p.m., American & Efird textile mill, 22 American St., Mount Holly

Since 1891, American & Efird has produced yarn and thread. Today, it remains one of the leaders in the industry. This stop, which will include a plant tour, will explore the challenges of the textile industry as well as the processes that create the product.

In the 1930s, Gaston County had more textile mills than any other county nationwide. That is no longer true, but American & Efird, with plants and offices on several continents and expanding foreign operations, has been able to maintain its headquarters and operations in Mount Holly.

Chris Plemmons, plant manager of the filament plant; Tim Cherry, the filament plant #05 assistant plant manager; and Tracy Sanders, department head of bonding and coating operations, will be the hosts at American & Efird.

Interviews: Participants and tour organizers are expected to be available for print and broadcast interviews at stops. During the tour, call UNC-Chapel Hill News Services at (919) 962-2091 with questions about coverage, directions to tour stops or interviews.

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Note: Dr. Lynn Blanchard, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for Public Service, is bus tour host and may be reached on the road at (919) 280-9434. Linda Douglas, director of community relations, is bus tour coordinator and may be reached at (919) 218-6947.

News Services contact: Deb Saine (919) 962-8415 or deborah_saine@unc.edu