SOUTH BEND — A 6½-year-old nonprofit has a new home, and a new plan to provide industrial sewing training.
Sew Loved, founded in 2012 by Vicki Miles, has taken up residence inside Vested Interest, the hub of small businesses located on the former Ziker Cleaners campus on Sample Street.
The nonprofit is about to begin a pilot program next week for a certified industrial sewing course that can help women transition into high-demand careers in manufacturing. The plan fits in with Vested Interest co-founder David Ziker’s vision of providing vocational training at the site, to help combat the problems of unemployment and underemployment in the area.
“First we’re just doing a test group of six people,” said Miles. “We want to work out everything with the curriculum. But hopefully by the beginning of next year we’ll be able to launch the formal school.”
“The Sewing Lab,” as the school will be called, hopes to become the only certified industrial sewing course in the state. Currently, there are no certified industrial sewing courses statewide. Contrary to Sew Loved’s free domestic courses, Miles said the industrial sewing course will have about a $3,500 tuition, but is working with manufacturers, WorkOne and others to find funding to support prospective students.
“There’s a huge need,” said Miles, “and these are good, living-wage jobs.”
According to Tom Haeussler at WorkOne Northern Indiana, the Elkhart-Goshen region has the second-highest concentration of industrial sewing jobs in the state. The state also has higher median wages than most other states, with a median hourly wage of $13.39 for industrial sewers.