ALBANY, N.Y. — Finger Lakes Textiles (FLT), an inclusive textile and knitting factory and a division of Mozaic, received a $10,000 grant through the NY MEP COVID Recovery Initiative to expand its manufacturing capabilities and develop a new personal protective equipment product that is fully made and sourced in the United States. FLT has worked closely with FuzeHub, the statewide center for the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NY MEP), and ITAC, a regional NY MEP center, to pursue this project.
“Finger Lakes Textiles has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to increase production of facemasks and keep people employed. As the pandemic evolved, so did they,” said FuzeHub Executive Director Elena Garuc. “They’re making a huge impact with the grant they received, and it’s been exciting to see how our ongoing partnership has helped bolster their operations.”
FLT provides an inclusive work environment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, fostering diversity within the workforce and supporting regional economic growth. FLT’s employees produce different clothing items, notably the fashion headwear known as Arctic Gear and cold-weather caps worn by the U.S. Military. Annually, FLT produces over 500,000 articles of headwear for the U.S. Department of Defense. Proceeds from the sales of their products are put toward programs that serve people with disabilities in New York State.
“After receiving the grant, we were able to expand our manufacturing capabilities to help meet our community’s need for facemasks,” said Mozaic President and CEO Allen Connely. “While it was a challenging moment for our community and our nation, we were proud to have the opportunity to step up and make a difference, while also continuing our mission to provide employment to people with diverse abilities.”
FLT has helped test new textile configurations for the development of a worn PPE garment, which is currently being field-tested by the Defense Department. FLT has also developed a new PPE product made exclusively from raw materials grown and produced in the U.S. for use by the military, meeting the military’s Berry Amendment requirements.
“The NY MEP COVID Recovery Initiative and its PPE Assistance Program have played an important role in helping manufacturers keep people employed while meeting a vital need for our state,” said ITAC Executive Director Kinda Younes. “We’re thrilled we had the opportunity to work with Finger Lakes Textiles to help them advance their mission and strengthen their manufacturing operations.”
“The New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership did tremendous work to get federal CARES Act funding into the hands of local manufacturers that needed funding support,” said NYSTAR Senior Vice President Matt Watson. “Together, the 11 centers that make up the NY MEP operated urgently and diligently to help businesses like Finger Lakes Textiles protect their workforce and preserve the economic impact of the state’s manufacturing industry.”
With the aid from this grant as well as previous support from FuzeHub and the NY MEP, FLT now has the capacity to produce its headgear in several different garment configurations, while still manufacturing and developing PPE.
To learn more about the NY MEP COVID Recovery Initiative and the PPE Assistance Program, click here.
About the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership
The New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NY MEP) is a network of 11 organizations that provide growth and innovation services to small and mid-sized manufacturers in every corner of the state to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. Supported through a combination of federal and state funding, the NY MEP is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and overseen by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). In 2019, the NY MEP created or retained 5,275 manufacturing jobs and generated $992 million in company cost savings, new investments and increased or retained sales.
For more information on NY MEP, visit www.newyorkmep.org.