Cotton textile workers in Brooklyn, Brooklyn, make up a growing share of the workforce in the city.
And the industry is growing, with more than 500 jobs in the last year alone, and growing again.
But the Brookside Arts District is also the largest textile-related employer in the United States, and has long been an important part of the fabric of the borough.
“We were the first textile industry in the country to start in Brooklyn, and the only textile district in the borough,” said Michael A. Miller, executive director of Brookside, a nonprofit that provides services to the industry.
“We have an amazing history in the textile industry, and our people are very talented, and it’s a great place to work.”
Miller said the industry has had its ups and downs over the years, but has always managed to stay afloat.
“When we started in the early 1990s, there was no one there.
Then, we went from five to 200 jobs, and then to 150 jobs,” he said.
“It took off and has been growing and growing and increasing.”
While the textile workers were able to get the jobs in Brookside through the efforts of the city and its government, Miller said they also have had their share of challenges.
“I think a lot of the things we’ve seen are because we have a lot more of a diverse workforce, because of the fact that we have so many different people from so many ethnicities and races and religions that come to work here,” he added.
“There are many different types of work that we do here, and that is really an advantage,” Miller added.
“In the past, we’ve always had a very strong working relationship with our employees, but now, there’s a lot less of that, and I think that’s a very good thing.”
Brooklyn, which includes Brookside and nearby East Brooklyn, was founded in 1855 by James Monroe, who was a prominent politician and a leader of the abolitionist movement.
Monroe was born in Jamaica, but grew up in the Bronx, where he studied engineering and later moved to New York City.
Monroe’s descendants became known as the Monroe family, after his first wife, Anna.
Brooklyn’s population grew from around 4,500 to over 9,000 in the mid-1900s, but the textile jobs grew by about 400 percent over the same period, according to Miller.
“They’re very skilled workers,” Miller said.
He said that they also tend to be younger and less experienced, making them hard to replace.
“It’s a good thing to have people in a position where they can actually keep their job,” Miller noted.
“I don’t know that we’ve had any turnover of people in the industry over the last 20 years.
We’re always looking for people that are capable, and people that will stay with the industry.”
But many of those skilled workers have moved away from the industry, leaving behind families, friends, and businesses.
Some of those who have left have made their way to other cities, like Minneapolis, Brooklyn’s largest city, and New York, where they now run businesses and live in small, affordable apartments.
“You have the kind of job that you need to have,” Miller observed.
“You want to be in the right city to get that kind of work, and you want to have the right type of person to do that.”
For Miller, the job of the textile worker is just one part of his job description.
He is also a volunteer firefighter, as well as a member of the United Way of Greater New York.
“That’s one of the best things about being a firefighter is that you can go to your firehouse and get all your family together and say, ‘Hey, I want to make sure the city’s safe and secure,'” he said, adding that it also gives him the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations.
“If I could have my way, I would be a firefighter myself, and if I had to take the fire, I’d take it to the people who need it the most,” he noted.