In late January, The Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced this year’s U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant recipients at the 84th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.
Support for the Innovation Fund is part of Walmart’s broader commitment to help revitalize U.S. manufacturing. In January 2013, Walmart announced a commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products that support U.S. jobs by 2023.
Five leading research and academic institutions were awarded a total of $2.84 million in grants by the fund for their work focused on innovations in textile manufacturing. The fund, which focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S., will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the course of five years. This is the second round of funding under this grant.
The grant recipients were selected for their ability to address two key challenges that currently present barriers to increased domestic manufacturing. These challenges are:
- Reducing the cost of textile manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the U.S. by addressing obstacles throughout production.
- Improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products.
“Through these grants we hope to help remove the barriers to revitalizing and growing U.S. apparel manufacturing, while creating more sustainable production processes,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “The U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s broader commitment to foster new economic growth and opportunity and create stronger communities.”
“America’s mayors work every day to create good jobs for the people who live in our cities and metro areas. The five projects we’ve recognized today will lead to manufacturing jobs in their respective cities and eventually, across the country,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “We are proud to partner with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to support these important efforts.”
The 2016 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund grant winners are:
- Clemson University for energy and effluent reduction through innovative dyeing of polyester fabrics
- Oregon State University for environmentally conscious dyeing of fabrics using continuous digital printing and drying of biopigment inks
- University of Texas at Austin for on-loom fabric defect inspection using contact image sensors
- North Carolina State University for developing a non-stop tying-in process/approach to improve weaving efficiency
- Cornell University for recycling post-consumer textile waste and a raw material substitute for new textiles
These commitments represent a significant investment that will help accelerate the pace of U.S. manufacturing. By making production in the U.S. more cost-effective and efficient, the global retailer believes it can bring American consumers more American-made products and ultimately create jobs in communities across the country.