Why Textile Factories Are Moving to El Paso

Korean companies that want to keep their made-in-America label but worry about the bottom line may relocate to El Paso.

By Joy DiazSeptember 17, 2015 2:17 pm

There was a time when El Paso was known for its garment industry – a pretty long time, from the end of WW2 to the mid-1990s.

Twenty-something years later, El Paso’s trying to revive its garment industry by luring manufacturing from Los Angeles. And the city of LA is worried – this looks like a real thing.

Reporter Vic Kolenc with the El Paso Times has been following this story.

Kolenc says Korean-American apparel manufacturers are planning to relocate before the LA minimum wage rises to $15 by 2020. El Paso is at the minimum federal level of $7.25 an hour.

“Here in El Paso, our wages are low. There’s been no effort by city council to try to raise the minimum wage here,” Kolenc says.

Kolenc says if the companies move to Texas, about 1,500 jobs will be created at first, with more coming if things go smoothly. He says the manufacturers are committed to moving to El Paso because their retailers need to keep the made-in-America label.

“It’s important for them to keep Made-In-The-USA,” he says. “They’re saying if they don’t move here, their only next option would be to move the jobs, possibly to Mexico.”

Kolenc says for decades El Paso was a garment-manufacturing hub but residents didn’t like those jobs because they were low-wage.

“Now we’re looking at those possibly coming back again,” he says. but now those jobs may be coming back.