Burke Development Inc., commonly known as BDI, has been awarded an Economic Innovation Grant in the amount of $75,000.00 from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.

Partnering with the locally owned and operated, Opportunity Threads, BDI submitted an application for the Rural Center’s Economic Innovation Grant. The purpose of this project is multifaceted. “This project was a value added approach to show tangible support to an innovative, creative company that we have already been working with on growth and expansion plans,” acknowledged BDI President, Scott Darnell. Specific goals for this project include retaining current jobs along with providing new jobs, strengthening our local textile industry cluster, and building long term assets for the workforce. In addition, a defining objective has been to document and disseminate worker-ownership as a model for economic strength and revitalization across North Carolina.

Worker-ownership is one of the many strengths of Opportunity Threads (OT). “Our effectiveness and innovation comes from putting the workers at the center through the model of worker-ownership and creating a cost effective business whose assets are rooted and owned by the community and whose practices are sustainable,” states general OT partner Molly Hemstreet. The worker-owned, eco-textile plant started operation in 2008, and has continued to grow and develop into a very sustainable cut and sew operation. The business has grown from 1 original client to over 17 clients from across the region and the United States. All of OT’s clients have some type of environmental focus and most work with organic materials. As well, OT is “green” in itself as all of the equipment has been refurbished and reclaimed from local textile mills that are no longer in operation.

The external support we have received for this project has been tremendous. Matching funds for this project have been committed from a variety of groups within the region totaling $11,500.00 cash and over $75,000.00 in in-kind support.

Expected outcomes and economic impact over the next twelve months include creating five to ten new full time jobs; seven to ten new regional and national contracts for OT; profit sharing for each worker owner; and new worker-owned businesses that could be launched in rural communities across North Carolina.

BDI will continue to bring together partnerships and create opportunities that will provide a competitive economic advantage for Burke County.

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Burke Development Incorporated, BDI, is a nonprofit 501c3 organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, existing businesses, government agencies and other entities to promote growth, innovation and sustainability in Burke County. For more information about BDI visit www.BurkeDevInc.com.