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By Crystal Vandegrift, Staff Writer
The contract sewing company closed mid-March, and the building has been sold according to Heidi Ho owner, Dozer Watkins.
Plans for the building now are to house a storage warehouse facility.
At the time of its close, Heidi Ho employed eight people but during its prime, the Keysville business provided a job for 60 people.
Watkins noted that the close of the business was due to “not being profitable anymore.”
“We just could not stay busy for 12 months out of the year, and that made it impossible to maintain a cash flow,” he added.
Over the years America has seen many manufacturing jobs lost to overseas companies who can provide labor at much lower cost. This came following the North American Free Trade Agree (NAFTA) enacted in the early 1990’s.
The fabric sewing industry is no different, and many apparel manufacturing companies have closed its doors. Heidi Ho was one of the last remaining sewing companies left in the United States.
“NAFTA was the beginning of the demise of the textile industry,” said Watkins. “The cost of labor is cheaper overseas; we are talking people getting paid $1 to $2 an hour.”
By establishing NAFTA, U.S. corporations could relocate production elsewhere and sell back into the United States. NAFTA undercut the bargaining power of American workers, which has driven the expansion of the middle class since the end of World War II. The result has been 20 years of stagnant wages and closed American businesses.
According to the Economic Policy Institute’s study, 61 percent of the net job losses due to trade under NAFTA, or 415,000 jobs, were manufacturing jobs.