The new building is owned and managed by the company which brings decades of experience in real estate development, economic development and workforce development in western North Carolina. Kitsbow has pledged to occupy 50% of the building (30,000 square feet) for use in industrial sewing training, as well as to expand production, for decades to come.
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Additional tenants – including businesses and nonprofits – will be invited to apply to rent space in the building provided their business or organization is in line with the overall vision. Priority will be given to organizations led by women, people of color, under-represented communities and / or employee-owned.
Kitsbow is a public benefit corporation, majority owned by employees, and manufactures premium clothing in the United States rather than overseas (unlike 98% of clothing sold in the United States, which is made in abroad). The company has pioneered in training a workforce with no previous experience to make beautiful clothes and is applying for B Corp certified status.
Since moving to Old Fort at the end of 2019, Kitsbow has focused on training a workforce with no previous experience in making premium clothing, helping build trails in Old Fort for access for all, making personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and healthcare professionals, making clothing in a sustainable way, creating and operating a unique retail service with great food and healthy locally made, hosting the first bicycle store in Old Fort in decades, using only compostable materials in all mailings and packaging, and creating generous benefits, such as 100% Medicare Paid By the company.