Apparel company, 557 jobs to come at vacant Alabama factory

A Los Angeles-based apparel company plans to take over part of a shuttered textile factory in Alabama and create hundreds of jobs, state officials said.

Governor Kay Ivey’s office said this week that the state is leasing Bella + Canvas part of the 890,000 square foot building in Wetumpka that has been vacant since Russell Brands left in 2013, The Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Bella + Canvas plans to use the space for what Ivey’s office called an “advanced fabric cutting facility,” investing $11.9 million and creating at least 557 jobs. The facility will be modeled after the company’s current location in Los Angeles, which uses proprietary software and tables to cut approximately 3 million garments per week while employing 1,000 workers.

Bella+Canvas produces a range of clothing for retail and wholesale. Founders Danny Harris and Marco DeGeorge started the business as a screen printing business in 1992 before expanding into a cut and sew operation and introducing new fabrics and fashion lines.

“After extensive research, we ultimately concluded that our new location in Wetumpka, Alabama was not only optimal for enhancing our technologically advanced manufacturing footprint and operating levels, but also ideal in terms of local government support and access to great new team members,” Bella + Canvas President Chris Blakeslee said in a statement.

The state said the jobs will include spreaders, general loggers, forklift operators, shipping and receiving clerks, and administrative staff with an average annual salary of $46,000. The national professional training agency AIDT helps the company to train and integrate workers.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility, designed to be highly efficient with precise processes, and I know our skilled workforce will help make it a success,” the Commerce Secretary said. Alabama, Greg Canfield, in a statement.

The state has not announced a timeline for opening the plant.