News & Events

A new chapter for a town that needed it most

June 21, 2021

[Source: The Sampson Independent]

The Town of Garland needed a win, and got a big victory this week with the announcement that the former Brooks Brothers facility would be vacant no more.

A year ago, it was a bleak picture when the town’s major staple faced the prospect of being vacant, one that ultimately materialized in some 150 people without jobs and the town losing an immense part of its tax base.

It was announced Monday that Cayenne Acquisitions Group, LLC purchased the Brooks Brothers Garland facility earlier this month. Garland Apparel Group, LLC will lease and reopen the facility late summer for their cut-and-sew operations. Production of branded shirts for multiple designers will continue as before, with military shirts and PPE production added to the product line for Garland Apparel, nothing out of the ordinary for the local workforce they will likely be utilizing.

Tax revenue is key, but putting people back to work is so crucial to their financial independence, mental health and housing stability. Most of the workforce at the facility lives in the area, many within walking distance. For them to be able to do what they do, make a living and produce an American-made product that benefits their hometown is invaluable.

The textile plant has been a part of Garland since the early 1950s and Brooks Brothers was with the town since 2001.

After the New York-based company filed for bankruptcy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several businesses showed interest in the facility. The closing date was pushed back multiple times as former employees received aid in the meantime. Town officials and leaders each hoped to see another company move in soon, and jobs restored.

Nothing came to fruition. And then came Monday’s announcement, and with it the clouds parted.

Nearly 150 employees found themselves without jobs last year. With a U.S.-based facility at the heart of their mission, Garland Apparel Group are anticipating more than 100 jobs to return to Garland by the end of year 1; more than 180 projected by the end of year 3.

Kenneth Ragland, managing member of the Garland Apparel Group LLC, said that the group envisions the Garland location “being very important for our ability to fill purchase orders and grow our company.”

Not only is that a positive sentiment, it is the kind of news vital to Garland in a climate where some companies aren’t just hesitant to expand, but actually forced to scale back without a capable labor force at their disposal.

Garland Mayor Winifred Hill Murphy said she was thankful to Ragland and the investment in Garland and Sampson County, a sentiment echoed by county officials and us. Sampson County and the State of North Carolina facilitated the sale. Murphy was elated at the news, a far cry from the devastation last year around this time.

“We’re devastated right now emotionally because it’s family,” Murphy said upon the announcement in May 2020 that Brooks Brothers would be leaving. “Most of Garland has worked at Brooks Brothers, so we’re very thankful.”

“We know the loss of Brooks Brothers in Garland is felt by the community and by former employees and their families,” Stephen Barrington, economic developer for Sampson County Economic Development Commission, also said at the time. “Cut and sew is a niche occupation. The value of the Garland facility to new company prospects, thus far, is less on the real estate, and more on this niche workforce.”

The niche workforce now awaits the factory’s reopening, as do we. For a town that doesn’t always get its fair shake, this is a banner day.

During a county budget public hearing at the beginning of this month, some Garland residents said they felt the town, and the southern end of the county, was being “forgotten.” This news shows that some still know the value of Garland, despite its remote locale and small size.

“After the pandemic and the many gloomy challenges that the town has faced,” said Murphy, “we finally feel a ray of sunshine and see a beautiful rainbow.”

Let the sunshine in.

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