April 2, 2014

Bond helps Southbridge sunglasses maker 'reshore' jobs

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 company, which makes Original Pilots —aviator sunglasses worn by U.S. military personnel — 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 product made in the U.S., according to MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development agency. The project is expected to create 15 jobs in Southbridge.

Southbridge Savings Bank purchased the bond.

"Bringing manufacturing back to the United States is an important part of AO Eyewear's long-term business model...We are proud to be part of the reshoring initiative and look forward to hiring more people while our business grows," AO Eyewear President Alan McKinley said in a statement.

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