Nashville will soon have a new, roughly 20,000 square-foot apparel manufacturing factory, a previously missing but much-needed piece of infrastructure for clothing designers looking to launch a business here.
Dean Wegner, owner of Omega Apparel, a private apparel manufacturing plan in Smithville, has signed a lease at 5225 Harding Place, in the Airpark Business Center, located just south of the airport. Wegner had originally scouted areas closer to the urban core, including the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, for a 10,000 square-foot facility, but decided to nearly double his footprint.
As we reported in April, Wegner plans to hire up to 1,000 people at the new factory over the next five years. To ensure he has enough skilled labor to work the machines to fill demand, he plans to partner with the Catholic Charities of Tennessee and The Housing Fund to expand its sewing program for refugees, and to launch a six-week certified training sewing academy. The idea is that graduates will get a job with either a local designer or Omega.
Unlike Wegner's Smithville factory, which at one point was the largest supplier of dress uniforms for the U.S. military, the machines in the Nashville factory will use pod technology, which enables short-run production.
Using the new technology, the machines can produce batches as small as 50 units, an ideal size for many local designers, who will be able to sample and produce in smaller quantities, leading to better cash flow and inventory management.