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South Florida fashion designer Rene Ruiz gives a boost to manufacturing — and jobs



Seamstresses stitch Chantilly lace onto stretch satin fabric. Hand finishers apply crystals to silk organza gowns. Pattern makers cut shapes onto crisp, brown paper, for what will become fall cocktail dresses.

As sewing machines whir, designer Rene Ruiz moves through the rows of tables, checking a sleeve here, an appliqué there, at his new 10,000-square-foot factory in Hialeah.

Rather than following the lead of most clothing makers who manufacture in Asia, Ruiz has expanded his production here at home, creating new jobs and boosting manufacturing — and the economy — in Miami-Dade County.

“It’s great to be manufacturing here in Hialeah and providing jobs,” Ruiz said as he walked the factory floor.

Ruiz, a high-profile fashion designer whose evening dresses sell for $700 to $10,000, is at the forefront of a nascent trend. After losing manufacturing jobs for decades, Miami-Dade is seeing an uptick, particularly for highly skilled, specialized manufacturing workers, said Jaap Donath, senior vice president of research and strategic planning for the Beacon Council.

“It speaks to Miami-Dade’s strength as a creative design hub,” said Pamela Fuertes, the Beacon Council’s vice president of international economic development programs. “It complements what we have been doing in terms of promoting Miami as a place for fashion companies to do business.”

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