Springs Creative, a Rock Hill-based textile designer, on Thursday announced it will move operations to the Cotton Factory in downtown Rock Hill, giving fledgling redevelopment efforts in that area a shot in the arm.
Springs Creative, located on Anderson Road, will move into the renovated, 20,000-square-foot Cotton Factory in early June, according to a news release. The new office will house 50 employees and serve as the company's design center and be home to the company's consumer products group.
Sales and marketing functions also will be at the new location, along with administrative support. Springs Creative will continue to operate its distribution center, located just behind the Cotton Factory property on the corner of White and Wilson streets.
"We believe this move demonstrates our commitment to the community and a deep respect for the history and the roots of the textile industry," Derick Close, CEO and owner of Springs Creative Group, said in the news release. "We are creating an environment that recognizes the past and embraces the future and are committed to the further revitalization of downtown Rock Hill and the expansion of the Textile Corridor project."
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Part of the Springs legacy
Close is a descendant of the Springs family of Fort Mill, founders of what has become Springs Global. Close's company, although not directly tied to Springs Global, is one of the few active remnants of the family's one-time textile empire in York, Chester or Lancaster counties.
The company is a leading sup- plier of licensed fabrics by Disney, NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Hershey, John Deere, Mattel and others to retailers including Wal-Mart, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Target and JCPenney.
In recent years, the Springs family merged its business with Brazil-based Coteminas to form Springs Global. Competition and lower labor costs overseas also contributed to thousands of workers losing their jobs. Last year, Springs Global ceased manufacturing at its remaining area mills. At one time, it was the largest private employer in the state.
New South now open
Springs Creative joins Williams & Fudge student loan collection agency and New South Interiors home furnishings in the historic mill building.
The Cotton Factory first opened in 1881 as the first steam-powered textile mill in South Carolina and the first mill in the city of Rock Hill. It was renovated last year by Gary Williams, owner of Williams & Fudge.
Amid much fanfare, New South Interiors this spring unveiled plans to open a 22,000-square-foot furniture store in the wing opposite Springs Creative. Husband and wife owners Chip and P.F. Pryor quietly opened their doors two weeks ago. They'll have a grand opening in early June.
"We've got the normal hiccups," Chip Pryor said. "But sales are following our plan. It's a good start."
He said signs will be erected soon marking the store to passing motorists, and billboards will be erected this summer around the area to attract shoppers from around the Charlotte region. Pryor said the early clientele has been mainly local shoppers.
The Cotton Factory has been touted as the first piece of a larger redevelopment project for the area between downtown and Winthrop University, known as the Textile Corridor, for its long mill history.
The full scope of the multimillion-dollar project is still years from reality. The old Bleachery site must be demolished and infrastructure upgrades are needed before construction can begin.