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Hickey Freeman looks to add 100 jobs immediately


The luxury clothing company Hickey Freeman announced Monday that it is adding 100 new jobs to its North Clinton Avenue factory immediately as part of an aggressive expansion.

Stephen Granovsky, the company's chief executive officer, said a dozen or so people have already been hired. Most of those jobs required experience in tailoring and machine operating, but he added that the fine clothier expects to hire and train new workers as well.

This growth, Granovsky said, is in anticipation of several new lines of business.

“We’ve actually signed contracts with three or four different brands, one large brand in particular who are going to move their brands from their current factory to our factory,” Granovsky said.

He would not reveal the name of the companies.

The expansion comes after Hickey Freeman already agreed to sell its factory to the development and property management firm Home Leasing. Granovsky said he  expects that about half the building will be turned into affordable housing units while Hickey Freeman continues to operate there.

Sen. Chuck Schumer visited the factory Monday as part of his push for passage of the massive federal infrastructure bill. One part of the bill is called the Make PPE in America Act, which would offer federal contracts to do just that — manufacture personal protective equipment, such as masks, filters, and gloves, in the United States.

“It means a four-letter word for Hickey Freeman and Rochester,” said Schumer. “Jobs. Two four-letter words: more jobs.”

Shortly after the pandemic hit, Hickey Freeman and Xerox partnered to make cloth masks for Rochester General Hospital and Granovsky said they quickly began making medical gowns too. He said they would like that to continue.

The post-pandemic challenge, Granovsky said, is to answer the question of why continue making PPE domestically at all?

“No matter what prospective you have, it's going to be higher cost to make in America than it is to make in China: where most PPE is produced today,” Granovsky said. “But if the government takes a proactive stance around pandemic preparedness, crisis management, job creation, there’s an opportunity to make permanent what we’ve learned as a temporary requirement during the pandemic.”

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.