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This story was updated at 4:44 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, with more information.

One of Rhea County's biggest manufacturing employers is expanding its apparel mill and distribution complex in Dayton, Tennessee, and adding 91 more jobs.

Robinson Manufacturing, a 94-year-old family-owned textile firm, announced Tuesday that it is investing $15 million to increase its manufacturing and warehousing facilities in Rhea County to meet increased demand for its products. The company has added a new distribution center at its existing location at 1140 Broadway St. in Dayton and has begun hiring more workers to staff its facilities.

"Our deep roots in the generations of the people of Rhea County is the foundation of our success," said Patrick Robinson, president of Robinson Manufacturing Company. "We certainly look forward to our future as well as continuing to provide jobs for our great community."

Robinson Manufacturing manufactures, decorates, warehouses and distributes apparel for customers around the world. Since it start in 1927, the company has manufactured apparel for a wide range of distribution, including nearly 90 percent of its production on World War II efforts in the 1940s.

At its peak, Robinson Manufacturing employed more than 1,200 workers at nine plants in Tennessee and Alabama. With the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, Robinson shifted more of its production overseas and closed most of its U.S. plants. But Robinson has continued to make and decorate specialty apparel in Dayton, where it continues to employ nearly 400 workers.

The job additions were welcomed Tuesday by state officials, especially in Rhea County which is considered an at-risk county by the Appalachian Regional Commission because of its above-average unemployment and poverty rates. Last month, while Tennessee's jobless rate fell to 5.1%, unemployment rose in Rhea County to 6.6%.

"Job creation in rural communities is crucial to our state's economic success, and I thank Robinson Manufacturing for creating these 91 new jobs," Tennessee Gov. Bill Le said in a statement Tuesday.

Over the past five years, companies have invested more than $9.5 billion in Tennessee's rural counties and Southeast Tennessee has landed more than $3.2 billion of investment, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD).

"Supporting projects in our at-risk and distressed counties is a priority for TNECD, and Robinson Manufacturing's investment is an indicator of healthy growth in Rhea County," said Bob Rolfe, the state's commissioner for economic and community development.

Those interested in applying for the new jobs at Robinson Manufacturing can apply at https://www.robinsonmfg.com/careers to learn more, or apply in person at 798 Market St. in Dayton.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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