Business incubators are pivotal in fostering entrepreneurial growth and innovation within the business landscape. These dynamic hubs serve as nurturing grounds for startups and emerging enterprises, providing a supportive environment beyond conventional office spaces. By creating a conducive ecosystem for fledgling businesses, incubators significantly increase the likelihood of success for startups, driving economic development, job creation, and technological advancements in various industries. Their role goes beyond providing physical spaces; they act as catalysts, propelling startups toward sustainable growth and empowering entrepreneurs to navigate the complexities of the business world.
Originally known as the Hosiery Technology Center at Catawba Valley Community College, the Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC), a NCMEP Partner, was established in 1990, primarily focusing on the hosiery industry. The transition from the Hosiery Technology Center to the broader Manufacturing Solutions Center reflects the adaptability of the facility to changing industry needs.
Employing a team of 25 professionals, the center provides various services emphasizing workforce training, testing, prototyping and research and development that align to support U.S. manufacturing and retain jobs in the sector. For a decade, it has assisted 973 clients in North Carolina, spanning textile, furniture and various other industries, and has extended its support to over 3,200 clients nationwide.
Jeff-speaking-at-Grand-OpeningHeading this organization is the director of MSC, Jeff Neuville. Neuville’s background in the apparel industry and his experience with Neuville Industries provide valuable insights into the challenges traditional manufacturing companies face, particularly in the face of automation and foreign competition. The focus on automation and the use of advanced machinery highlights the industry’s efforts to stay competitive and efficient. Neuville stated, “Our mission is to support US manufacturers and help create and retain US manufacturing.”  


Manufacturing Solutions Center’s Business Incubator Program has been a source of pride for the organization. “We have an incubator on site, for those interested in making something in the United States. We’re like the ‘middle step’ in the product development process.“ Neuville continues, “We’ve had several companies come through here and graduate from our incubator program and move into our new building where they are successful operating companies and have created over 50 jobs for our community.” 
The incubator provides technical assistance, helps those involved secure equipment and even helps with marketing. Neuville said, “We have an ISO-accredited testing lab for companies looking to validate what their products are capable of or trying to meet specific guidelines established by corporations or government agencies. We are there for our incubator companies the whole way.. We look at ourselves as problem solvers, decipher what our customers need and find a solution.” 
For Clothing 2.0 founder Jordan Schindler, finding out about MSC’s business incubator program was a serendipitous experience. “One of our investors told us about the incubator program. We flew out and knew that was where we needed to be. It’s the only place in the country designed to promote and grow the domestic textile industry,” Schindler stated.
The importance of a business incubator lies in its ability to offer a range of resources and support mechanisms, including mentorship, access to funding, shared infrastructure and networking opportunities. The incubator has two knitting labs for hosiery/sock product development and a research lab where they maintain samples of US textile products. MSC has textile experts on staff so if someone is interested in developing a product, and is not sure what materials to use or needs help networking with manufacturers or connecting with suppliers, MSC can walk them through the process of finding what they need. 
MSC-Tour-PPE-Testing-Lab-2Jason Wilkins, co-founder of InnovaKnits, said he reached out to the Manufacturing Solutions Center for some direction, and what they got in return was priceless. Wilkins stated, “We were blown away. We had no idea there was any place where such a specific textile knowledge pool existed that was there to help the industry. Training, networking, prototyping, research; everything we needed to grow our product was there in one place.”


In March of 2023, the Manufacturing Solutions Center opened MSC II. MSC II is an aspiring inventor’s dream. The new 75,000-square-foot building incorporates a substantial $3 million private sector-funded factory space of 45,000 square feet. Designed as an expansive and forward-thinking setting, MSC II is tailored to accommodate incubator clients who have completed the Manufacturing Solutions Center programs and are poised for significant growth. With well-appointed conference spaces, the facility offers convenient venues for hosting networking events and client meetings. The public-private partnerships and collaborations with private investment groups also showcase the collaborative approach taken to ensure the center’s success.
MSC-Ceremony-Presentation-to-Tony-WhitenerOne of those flourishing organizations that moved into MSC II is YouApparel, a company that ships hundreds of custom compression socks worldwide every day. Director of Manufacturing Mark Bess is overseeing YoU apparel growth in MSC II. “We wanted to start at MSC. We said we needed help and there was the only place to get it. We started small with one machine in 2017 and now we have 25 today,” Bess stated.


When asked what they look for in incubator candidates, Neuville replied, “We always seek ambitious individuals with fantastic ideas to participate in our incubator program. The more products we can help to succeed, the more aligned we are with our mission. There are many moving parts but every day is different and exciting. It’s a good place to be.” 
Listen to the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) Clocking In:
“Fostering Growth and Innovation” podcast with NCMEP Director, Phil Mintz and MSC Director, Jeff Neuville. Jeff Neuville also hosts The Entrepreneur Exchange podcast, monthly conversations with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and business experts who share tools and tips to help new and existing businesses grow.
For more information on Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Incubator opportunities, contact Jeff Neuville at 828.327.7000 or