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NC colleges partner to promote Honduran textile education

Signing of MOU (CVCC, NCSU, UNITEC, Gaston College).jpg
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Education leaders from Catawba Valley Community College, NC State University, the Honduran-based Central American Technological University and Gaston College sign a memorandum of understanding.

Gaston College opened its first day of the school year with an announcement that advances U.S. trade and migration policy with Honduras.

This story was produced through a collaboration between WFAE and La Noticia. You can read it in Spanish at La Noticia. Puedes leer la nota en español en La Noticia.

North Carolina school leaders signed an agreement in Gaston County on Monday to expand textile education in Honduras.

The deal, supported by the U.S. and Honduran governments, has two goals in mind: to create jobs that discourage migration from Honduras and to create market opportunities for North Carolina textiles.

The partnership will offer textile degrees to students in Honduras through Gaston College, North Carolina State University, Catawba Valley Community College and the Honduran-based Central American Technological University.

Jose Fernandez, under secretary of state for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, said the measure helps increase private investment and expand supply chains in Central America.

“The things that will be discussed as part of this partnership are essential to something that we've all discovered we need, and that's fostering sustainable and resilient supply chains,” he said.

Honduras projects a need for 10,000 additional textile workers over the next five years, according to the agreement. Many of these workers will be processing yarns and fabrics imported from the U.S. and North Carolina through the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA-DR.

“Right now, approximately 82% of U.S. exports of spun yarn go to the CAFTA-DR countries. This includes yarn that's made here in North Carolina.” Fernandez said. “So, co-production, expanding that in Central America, is important to creating jobs here as well.”

Hector Zelaya, private secretary to Honduran President Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento, ended the press conference with the following statement, translated from Spanish:

“Honduras needs a large flow of investment and to become a successful example in the north of Central America that investment can play a real role in transforming the causes of migration.”

About one billion dollars in textile and apparel investment is expected to be made in the United States and Central America this year, according to the National Council of Textile Organizations.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.