It had been just over 90 years since the textile industry last operated in downtown Hillsboro.
That was true until last month when a company that arrived with an interest in Hillsboro history became part of it.
Atlas 46, a Fenton, MO, company began production in their American Made Manufacturing Pod (AMMP) on Berry Street in downtown Hillsboro on Feb. 18.
The company, which arrived in Hillsboro through the efforts of the Montgomery County Growth Initiative chaired by Robert Buda, opened with 12 sewers on the floor, one lead, and one manager. They would like to hire another six employees before a retail store opens at that location on April 8, and a couple more after that.
"The end goal is 40 employees in this location," Hillsboro Site General Manager Kyle Anderson said, "and we're looking at expansion past that."
Anderson, a Peoria native who graduated from Greenville University, said applicants are still needed. Work hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A grand opening is in the works, scheduled for May 18.
Currently, employees at the Hillsboro location are working on the Atlas 46 patented AIMS connection system, and have also produced the Atlas 46 Yorktown tool roll.
"We're ahead of schedule as far as production goes," Anderson said of the local workforce. "Right now, we're working on quality more than efficiency."
Everything Atlas 46 produces is guaranteed for life and must meet military specs for quality control.
Garments were last produced in downtown Hillsboro until Jan. 22, 1929, when the American Pants Factory in the old Penwell and Klar building at the north end of the east side of Main Street burned. That factory had 70 employees and had operated for only ten months before the fire, turning out 2,400 pair of men's dress pants weekly.
The textile industry last operated in Hillsboro when the Hillsboro Dress Factory opened on School Street, roughly across from where Family Eye Care is now located, in 1941. Wages on opening day were 25 cents an hour, and at its height the dress factory employed about 150 people, mostly women. It operated in Hillsboro until 1967 when the company moved to Litchfield and merged with the Betty D. Garment Company operating in the old Brown Shoe plant.