Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced last week that BELLA+CANVAS, a fast-growing apparel manufacturer with a “Made in the U.S.A” focus, will reopen part of an abandoned textile facility in Elmore County.

The Los Angeles-based BELLA+CANVAS will invest $11.9 million to establish the operation in a portion of an 890,000-square-foot building that has stood vacant since 2013 that was vacated when Russell Brands left Wetumpka. The move brings 550 jobs to Elmore County.

BELLA+CANVAS produces clothing for the retail and wholesale markets. The company also offers clothing design and manufacturing services. The company is known for its domestic manufacturing mission, the development of innovative new fabrics and its sustainability practices.

“The decision by BELLA+CANVAS to locate its high-tech cutting facility in Wetumpka is welcome news for Elmore County and for Alabama,” said Ivey. “Not only will the company’s growth project spark the creation of a significant number of jobs, but it also underscores how Alabama is ready and eager to play a role in America’s manufacturing renaissance.”

Chris Blakeslee is the President of BELLA+CANVAS.

“We are thrilled to be part of the community and look forward to creating jobs and opportunities for many in Alabama,” said Blakeslee. “After a comprehensive search, we ultimately concluded that our new location in Wetumpka, Ala. was not only optimal to enhance our manufacturing footprint and technologically advanced operations levels, but also ideal in terms of support from the local government and access to great new team members.”

BELLA+CANVAS employs over 1,000 people at its Los Angeles cutting facility. That facility uses proprietary software and cutting tables to cut almost three million garments per week. The Wetumpka facility is expected to be modeled after this state-of-the-art operation.

Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones told 1819 News, “Now more than ever, ‘Made in the USA’ has a significant meaning for consumers. BELLA+CANVAS is placing pride in American manufacturing into practice with a near $12 million investment in a Wetumpka facility that has been vacant since 2013. The project is estimated to create 557 jobs with an average salary of $46,000, and AIDT, our state’s workforce development arm, will assist with pre-employment assistance and training. We are thankful for BELLA+CANVAS’ decision to choose Alabama for its latest expansion and look forward to celebrating with a ribbon-cutting in the near future.”

The 557 jobs being created at the new Alabama facility include spreaders, general cutting laborers, forklift operators, shipping and receiving clerks and administrative staff.

Greg Canfield is the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Alabama’s manufacturing sector provides an ideal home for technologically advanced operations like the one planned by BELLA+CANVAS in Wetumpka,” said Canfield. “This is a state-of-the-art facility, designed to be highly efficient with precise processes, and I know our capable workforce will help make it successful.”

“We are excited to welcome BELLA+CANVAS to Elmore County,” said County Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs. “In addition to the boost our local economy will receive from the infusion of jobs, we are proud to be part of the efforts of Phoenix Investors and BELLA+CANVAS to reshore manufacturing jobs to the United States.”

In 2020, Wisconsin-based Phoenix Investors, a national private real estate firm, announced that an affiliate had acquired the former Russell Brands building in Wetumpka. BELLA+CANVAS is leasing a portion of the building at 3145 Elmore Road from the firm.

BELLA+CANVAS’ project is expected to have a massive economic impact for the greater Wetumpka area.

Alabama was once home to over a hundred thousand textile jobs, but foreign competition, aging facilities and trade deals that did not favor American manufacturing led to most of those facilities being shuttered over the last three decades.

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