Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Ray Of Sunshine

Worcester Business Journal reports that AO Eyewear, Inc. will renovate its Southbridge manufacturing headquarters and buy new equipment using a $1.5-million tax-exempt bond issued by MassDevelopment.

The project is expected to create 15 jobs in Southbridge.

Southbridge Savings Bank purchased the bond.

The company makes Original Pilots —aviator sunglasses worn by U.S. military personnel. It was in 1958 that the Flight Goggle 58, now known as the Original Pilot Sunglass was produced for the US military to provide pilots with maximum protection, optical performance and comfort.  Right to the present time, the Original Pilot is still being manufactured in the AO complex in Southbridge, Massachusetts.

In fact the Original Pilot Sunglass was honored to be the first ever sunglass to land on the moon worn by Commander Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969.  It now resides on permanent display in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Proceeds of the bond will purchase an automatic rim-forming machine, an ultrasonic cleaning system, self-contained frame-washing stations, and two automatic frame induction soldering lines. This machinery will assist the company in meeting its goal of moving jobs and production from China and having all of its products made in the U.S., according to MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency.

A press release by MassDevelopment stated:

“AO Eyewear is part of a small but growing trend known as reshoring, in which U.S. manufacturers bring back jobs and production from overseas,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We’re pleased to support companies like AO Eyewear and promote advanced manufacturing as an attractive career path through the AMP it up! campaign.”
AO Eyewear, formerly the metal frame division of American Optical Corporation, assembles, packages, and distributes sunglasses to military and civilian optical customers worldwide. The company is a preferred vendor with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force Exchange Service, and the U.S. Navy Exchange and Command.
“Bringing manufacturing back to the United States is an important part of AO Eyewear’s long-term business model. MassDevelopment and Southbridge Savings Bank have been key factors in the financing aspect of that plan. We are proud to be a part of the reshoring initiative and look forward to hiring more people while our business grows,” said AO Eyewear President and Owner Alan McKinley.

The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency (MassDevelopment)
was created in 1998 under Chapter 23G of the Massachusetts General Laws, which merged the Massachusetts Government Land Bank with the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency. Effective October 1, 2010, the former Massachusetts Health and Educational Finance Authority (MHEFA) merged with MassDevelopment. Both a lender and developer, MassDevelopment works with private- and public-sector clients to stimulate economic growth by eliminating blight, preparing key sites for development, creating jobs, and increasing the state’s housing supply. MassDevelopment's first president and CEO was Michael P. Hogan, from 1993–2003, followed by Robert Culver from 2004-2011. Today, it is led by Marty Jones, who came to the agency in 2011 after working for Boston building, development, and property management company Corcoran Jennison.

1 comment:

  1. Boston Consulting Group predicted that this (“onshoring”) would become a trend three years ago.


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