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Free industrial sewing job training connects Pascua Yaqui tribe with entrepreneurs

Arizona Luminaria

Mar 9, 2022

Article by Becky Pallack, Reporter with Arizona Luminaria

Andy Flores had never seen a sewing machine before. For 27 years, he worked for his Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Part of his work meant caring for the resource center building in Old Pascua. It was his job to unlock the doors to the classroom, where he saw his people drawing on their cultural traditions and learning new ways to sew.

One day, Flores decided to join the class. He thought it could open doors to new opportunities after he retires from the tribal government.

The training is providing economic access to sewist jobs for tribal citizens, he says, holding fabric in his hands, guiding the pieces of a class project through a serger machine. “It’s an honor to be part of it,” he says.

The class is part of a colorful patchwork of local groups collaborating to create new apparel manufacturing jobs and businesses in Tucson.

The threads of this collaboration include a tribe that wants to thrive. A city that wants to grow its economy. A nonprofit organization that wants to help entrepreneurs, and local business owners who want to hire more workers.

The heart and hands of the project are local workers who want training for better jobs.

The group is sewn together in the new Arizona Stitch Lab, a free job training program housed in the Sonoran Stitch Factory, a cut-and-sew factory in a sky-blue building with a fading mural on one side just across the street from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Resource Center in the Old Pascua area of Tucson, near Grant Road and Interstate 10.

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