A Canadian company’s plans to employ more than 200 people at a new sock-making facility in Burke County drew a top trade official Wednesday to tout the importance of foreign investment in the U.S.
Montreal-based Peds Legwear spent about $16 million to transform the former International Legwear Group in Hildebran, a town about 60 miles from Charlotte in an area where textile and furniture companies were hit hard by the recession. The company said the plant will hire 150 by the end of 2015 – about 60 of whom are former ILG workers – and will create 205 jobs total by 2018.
Stefan Selig, the undersecretary for the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, joined Gov. Pat McCrory, Peds President Michael Penner and Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart Stores’ vice president of U.S. manufacturing, at a ceremony in Hildebran.
More than 200,000 North Carolina residents are employed by American subsidiaries of foreign firms, Selig said in an interview with the Observer before the event, and nearly half of those are in manufacturing.
“It’s a great example of North Carolina’s prowess … in attracting (foreign direct investment),” said Selig, who until last year was the executive vice chairman of global corporate and investment banking at Bank of America. He was hired by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl in 1999.
In total, the U.S. attracted more than $230 billion in foreign direct investment last year, which was up from $170 billion the year before, Selig said. Citing its capital markets, elite universities, rule of law, skilled workforce and lower energy costs, Selig said the U.S. has become a more attractive place for foreign firms to do business.
“We really do have, I believe, the most attractive investment destination in the world,” Selig said. “As a former banker, there were so many places around the world that were the flavors du jour where clients were interested in investing. Many of those places now seem to be significantly challenged.”
Peds has entered a multiyear partnership to sell its hosiery products at Walmart – part of a pledge by the retailer’s parent company to spend $250 billion on American-made products by 2023.