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Cotton to take center stage during MSU summit

 STARKVILLE — From entrepreneurs to designers, anyone interested in cotton textiles will learn something more about the market at Mississippi State University’s upcoming Cotton Summit.

The three-day free educational opportunity, April 22-24, will be held at locations throughout campus.

Sessions will be led by a range of professionals who know the ins and outs of the cotton supply chain, said Charles E. Freeman, assistant professor of apparel, textiles and merchandising in MSU’s School of Human Sciences. The program will include lectures, discussions and workshops.

Keynote speaker Maria D’Andrea, supervisory international trade specialist at U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, promotes American textiles among foreign markets, Freeman said.

“Ms. D’Andrea will offer a perspective on the state of the U.S. textile and apparel industry, current trade policy issues and their impact on the competitiveness of the domestic industry,” he explained. “Ms. D’Andrea will also highlight initiatives by the Office of Textiles and Apparel to promote ‘Made in USA’ and the potential to impact future sourcing decisions by apparel importers, brands and retailers.”

Other featured speakers include:

–Winki Allen, an Enterprise-based textile and fiber artist whose work features hand-painted silks.

–Joe Blair, CEO for New York’s Individualized Apparel Group, the largest supplier in the U.S. of men’s luxury apparel.

–April Giddings Cobb, owner and CEO of Modern Yardage, a U.S.-based, environmentally friendly fabric printer.

–Mattie James, fashion and lifestyle blogger at Mattieologie, an Atlanta-based advocate of the connection between personal style and life purpose.

–Lesley Livingston, production manager in Cleveland, Tenn., at United Knitting High Performance Fabrics, a world leader in performance stretch-fabrics production.

–Hank Reichle, vice president of export sales and market administration at the Greenwood-based Staplcotn Cooperative Association, one of the largest U.S. cotton-marketing companies.

Freeman said the 2014 Cotton Summit is one aspect of MSU’s participation in Cotton University, a consortium of professionals and educational institutions advocating increased understanding of the cotton textile industry.

Cotton Incorporated’s Importer Support Program and MSU’s School of Human Sciences are summit sponsors.

Because of space limitations, attendees should register at humansci.msstate.edu/workshops/cotton. A complete summit schedule is available at the site’s “Downloadable Program” link.

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