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Partnership Between Wilson College of Textiles and Colleges in NC, Honduras To Provide Economic Growth, Educational Opportunities

Dean David Hinks and other signers of the Honduras MOU

By Sarah Stone

The Wilson College of Textiles strengthened international partnerships and the future of the textile industry through a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 

The agreement, signed August 23 at a ceremony in Dallas, North Carolina, establishes an educational network between the Wilson College, Catawba Valley Community College, Gaston College and the Central American Technological University (UNITEC) in Honduras. Plans for this partnership include: 

  • Professional training courses in textiles available online and in Honduras. 
  • Certificate programs for academic credit. 
  • Associate degree programs in textiles.
  • Bachelor’s degree programs in textiles.
  • Graduate programs in textiles.
  • Funding for scholarships, fellowships and internships.

“The MOU is a win on so many levels. Firstly, it is a win for U.S. textile manufacturers who operate in both the U.S. and Central America as they build more resilient and economically and environmentally sustainable supply chains. Secondly, it’s a win for the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State in advancing its land-grant mission to support economic prosperity and provide transformative opportunities for people of all ages in North Carolina and beyond in collaboration with our community college partners and now UNITEC in Honduras,” Dean David Hinks said.

Dean David Hinks and leaders from the other colleges involved in the MOU sign the agreement in a ceremony.
Photo Courtesy: Devin Steele

Responding to Textile Industry Needs

Through these programs, leaders aim to chip away at the deficit of trained workers in “The Northern Triangle”: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. About 10,000 additional workers are expected to be needed in Honduras alone within the next five years due to significant investment. Despite this, no formal textile training and education exists in the region right now. 

This demand for skilled textile workers is a result of the textile industry growth happening right here in North Carolina; many textile manufacturers headquartered in the state have plants in Central America. The Research Triangle is also linked to “The Northern Triangle” through the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Of all the yarn spun in the U.S., 81% is exported to CAFTA-DR countries. 

CAFTA-DR accounts for $12.6 billion in annual two-way trade and supports 1 million workers in the U.S. and the region, according to the National Council of Textile Organizations. This substantial economic impact has influenced the U.S. State Department to view co-production as a top initiative. 

“This agreement will strengthen supply chain security and integration, providing benefits for producers and consumers across the Western Hemisphere,” a department spokesperson said in an official statement of support released this week

“It’s a win for the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State in advancing its land-grant mission to support economic prosperity and provide transformative opportunities.” – Dean David Hinks

Growth and Opportunities for Wilson College and Its Students

Ultimately, the MOU will support not just the textile industry as a whole, but the Wilson College of Textiles in particular. In the coming years, international students will enroll in both undergraduate and graduate programs at the Wilson College. 

UNITEC will also provide a number of opportunities to current Wilson College doctoral students as it begins building accredited textile degree programs that require faculty members. 

“By signing this academic MOU, we bring education and industry together between two economies with a strong history of success in the textile industry. This is a great example of creating valuable partnerships aimed at developing the workforce to be more competitive to operate in a global market,” UNITEC Rector Marlon Brevé-Reyes said. 

Moving forward, UNITEC plans to pursue similar collaborations with NC State for non-textiles programs as well.