Gaston College breaks ground on Fiber Innovation Center
The FIC will be a world-class, state-of-the-art facility designed to meet the textile industry’s growing needs.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, October 27, celebrated the start of construction of the Fiber Innovation Center, an expansion of the Gaston College Kimbrell Campus and its Textile Technology Center. The campus is located on Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont, N.C.
The Fiber Innovation Center will provide a world-class facility to develop and test fibers for the advanced materials industry for use in proprietary products developed by national and international clients. When completed, it will be the only North American facility open to industry that will house the entire range of advanced fiber development capabilities where scientists can start with an idea, move to small-scale trials, and work up to a commercially viable product ready for production. Local and regional support from the textile industry and from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management is helping make this state-of-the-art project possible.
In his comments to ceremony attendees, Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College, said, “Today this groundbreaking represents a unique partnership that includes the Federal Government, the State of North Carolina, Gaston County, Gaston College, North Carolina State University, and our most important partner—private industry.
“I have worked with many partnerships and collaborations in my 24 years in the community college system, yet none compare to this,” he continued. “I am proud of our work and proud that we are owning our momentum as we join forces to build a world-class Fiber Innovation Center.”
Also speaking at the ceremony were John Dancoff, Chairman of the Gaston College Board of Trustees; John Lowery, President of the Gaston College Foundation; Andy Warlick, Chairman and CEO of Parkdale Mills; and Davis Warlick, Executive Vice President of Parkdale Mills.
Parkdale Mills is one of the Textile Technology Center’s vital partners and clients, and its executives have worked closely with Gaston College on the initial design concept of the Center.
“I have not seen in my lifetime in Gaston County a project with such overwhelming support from the state, county, city, academia, philanthropy, and industry,” said Andy Warlick. “The Fiber Innovation Center is the future of the textiles industry.”
The architectural firm of WHN Architects designed the approximately 39,000 square foot facility and Shelco, LLC, is the contractor for the project.
The FIC represents Gaston College’s continuing commitment to the textile industry. For close to 80 years, the Textile Technology Center has played a significant role in helping the North Carolina textile industry remain competitive, manufacture quality products, and maintain a well-trained workforce. With this facility and the planned launch of a Textile Academy focused on addressing the workplace skills gap related to the textile industry, the College and the regional textile industry will be even more strongly woven together.
For more information about the Fiber Innovation Center and the Gaston College Textile Technology Center, visit gaston.edu/fic.