A yarn mill big enough to consume the Arkansas Delta’s entire cotton harvest will open in Forrest City and export yarn worldwide through Memphis and Western ports.

Chinese textile producer Shandong Ruyi Technology Group plans to spend $410 million converting a former television factory into an 800-employee spinning yarn mill scaled to use 200,000 tons of cotton each year, Arkansas officials say. 

Shandong Ruyi’s high-tech mill will ramp up in stages beginning with about 400 employees earning average wages of $15.25 per hour.

Investing in a yarn mill represents a full turn in China-Delta relations since Memphis cotton merchant Dunavant Enterprises sold the first load of U.S. cotton to China in 1972, after the Cold War thaw between Beijing and Washington.

While farmers in the Delta regularly have shipped cotton to China ever since, this region never developed the textile business evident in the yarn, fabric and garment plants that grew up in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. Full Article