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Completion of Renowned Clothing Manufacturer Tom James Acquisition of Former Hickey Freeman Facility in Rochester Announced

$7 Million Investment by New York State Complements "Finger Lakes Forward"

Governor Kathy Hochul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced the completion of renowned clothier Tom James Company’s acquisition of the 112-year-old former Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility which will proudly be recognized and branded as Rochester Tailored Clothing.  Tom James will utilize the highly skilled workforce to produce tailored suits for other brands as well as its own clothing line at the North Clinton Avenue facility in the City of Rochester. As part of the acquisition, Tom James will retain 200 jobs previously at risk had the factory closed and has committed to growing employment on site to 245 net jobs over the next five years.  

 Former Hickey-Freeman Facility in Rochester, NY

“This agreement with the Tom James Company marks the start of a new chapter at the historic Hickey Freeman Building and will ensure that its legacy as an economic driver endures in Rochester,” Governor Hochul said. “For more than a century, this facility has been Rochester’s gateway to the world of fashion and an important source of stable, union jobs. Now, thanks to State investment and the support of the Majority Leader and partners at every level of government, Tom James will continue to make quality products and employ hundreds of workers in the heart of Rochester.” 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said “It’s official Rochester will continue its long tradition of making high quality suits, powered by our top notch union tailor workforce! This 112-year old factory is a Rochester institution – woven into the very fabric of the community – and that is why I’ve fought time and again to keep it in business whenever it faced challenges. Last month, after I had personally called the CEO to urge him to look at Rochester, I announced Tom James Company’s plans to acquire this iconic factory, and today, I’m thrilled to announce that Tom James has officially closed on its purchase of this Rochester institution – not only providing stability for its 200 world-class union employees, but also adding additional jobs in the coming years. When I visited this Rochester facility a few years ago and walked the floor alongside the factory’s hardworking employees, many of whom have worked there for decades, I committed to making sure their future was secure for years to come.  Tom James Company, fueled by its own Workers United union workforce, has become an industry leader and is tailor-made to sew success now for Rochester’s future. Now that the deal is officially closed, I’m excited to see what the future holds for this beloved Rochester factory and its hundreds of skilled Rochester union workers.” 

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “Rochester has long been home to a skilled workforce in the garment industry, and the storied history of the Hickey Freeman company inspires many with nearly 125 years of operations in the city. With the purchase of this factory by the Tom James Company, Rochester’s days of Made-in-America suit manufacturing will live on. I’m grateful for the investment by Tom James to ensure that the region maintains quality, union jobs for nearly 200 workers at the North Clinton Ave. factory, and that the company intends to grow this workforce. This was a collective effort at all levels of government and local industry, and I am thankful for the efforts of Senator Schumer and Empire State Development to make this acquisition a reality.” 

Schumer and Hochul announced Tom James’s plans to acquire the Rochester factory earlier this summer. This official closing comes after a personal appeal to Tom James CEO Todd Browne from the Majority Leader after the factory was put up for sale earlier this year. Schumer called on the company to move forward with plans to take over the factory and provide stability and growth for this long-time Rochester facility. Governor Hochul also directed Empire State Development to engage Tom James in discussions around State funding sources available to support the acquisition.  

The Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing factory was struggling and running out of capital to continue operations. Tom James Company was approached to consider acquiring the assets and establishing operations at the factory. Tom James then committed to acquiring the facility’s assets and continue to operate the downtown retail factory store. To ensure the factory’s future, New York State is providing up to $7 million over the next five years through the regionally designed Upstate Revitalization Initiative to support the company’s success. The total project cost of the acquisition, capital investments and upgrades to the facility has been placed at $15 million.  

Founded in 1966, the Tom James Company is a made to measure clothing manufacturer headquartered in Tennessee with factories in eight other states.  The company employs 3,000 workers globally, with locations in the U.S, Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands. The company is 100 percent employee-owned and is the largest custom clothing manufacturer in the world. The Rochester factory will mark the company’s 10th domestic facility. 

Todd Browne, CEO of Tom James said, “Tom James is very excited to welcome the legacy of fine tailoring from Rochester Tailored Clothing into the Tom James family. Tom James remains firmly committed to preserving, and enhancing, the art of garment-making in the United States. We know of no workforce more qualified to further this mission than the men and women of Rochester Tailored Clothing. Tom James expresses its gratitude to Senator Schumer, Governor Hochul, and a host of supporters in New York, for helping to level the playing field for garment manufacturers in the United States, allowing us to compete fairly on the merits of our products and our people against any product made anywhere in the world. If it were not for the combined efforts of Senator Schumer, Governor Hochul, Empire State Development, and many others, we would not be where we are today.” 

Empire State Development President and CEO and Commissioner, Hope Knight, said, “I want to thank Tom James for their investment in this historic facility- one that will support the continued operations at the site where generations of skilled workers have crafted top-quality products. Known around the world for its top-notch products, the company’s commitment will also create and retain high-quality jobs and support the continued, promising future for this celebrated facility that truly functions as the heart of that important city neighborhood.” 

Representative Joe Morelle said, “The Hickey Freeman factory has been an iconic part of Rochester’s community fabric for more than a century, and I am pleased that legacy will now continue under the Tom James Company. I am especially grateful for their commitment to retaining local jobs and investing in our skilled workforce. I look forward to working alongside Tom James as well as Governor Hochul, Senator Schumer, and all of our local partners to continue growing the future of our regional economy.” 

In addition to the Tom James operation, in August of 2022, Empire State Development also provided a $2.5 million Regional Council Capital Grant to Home Leasing, LLC to support the reuse of part of the site for senior housing. That project is being spearheaded by NYS Homes and Community Renewal and is called “Tailor Square”. The project will convert part of the historic four-story manufacturing building home into 134 affordable apartments, including 45 homes for seniors in need of supportive services. The energy-efficient design will incorporate geothermal and photovoltaic solar technology to manage the heating and cooling systems. 

State Senator Samra G. Brouk said, “The former Hickey Freeman factory is a core part of the Rochester community, and I’m grateful to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Governor Kathy Hochul, and leadership at Workers United for their efforts to ensure that this factory remains operational with Tom James. By protecting good paying union jobs in our community, we are investing in the working families that call Rochester home.”

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “I am pleased to see Rochester’s proud tradition of fine clothing manufacturing will continue under Tom James. I am grateful to see a company committed to local jobs and workers, with a worldwide reputation, choosing our community for investment. I look forward to working with them and thank Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Governor Hochul for their efforts to keep jobs in Rochester, and jump start a new chapter in our manufacturing history.” 

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “As Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Development, I am thrilled to see the Hickey Freeman legacy reinvigorated and expanded due to the investment from Tom James Co. Their commitment ensures that new jobs are created, and existing skilled trade jobs remain in our community. Additionally the 100+ year-old historic building and storefront will be utilized for a new generation of Rochestarians.”  

Assemblymember Demond Meeks, “I would like to thank Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Workers United for their efforts in ensuring the continued operations at the former Hickey Freeman Facility in Rochester. The creation and retention of these 245 majority-union jobs is crucial to the members of our community. Congratulations are in order for Todd Browne, CEO of renowned clothier Tom James Co. for acquiring the facility. I am grateful for the commitment and investment in our city’s workforce. I would also like to thank Empire State Development as well as NYS Homes and Community Renewal for securing quality and affordable housing for our seniors through their collaboration on project Tailor Square.”

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “Governor Hochul and Senator Schumer continue to work seamlessly with local leadership to ensure that we retain critical jobs for residents, and for that, I am grateful. We are all dedicated to creative solutions as industries adjust and change in an ever-evolving economic landscape. Creating opportunities for companies like Tom James and the hundreds of people they employ is integral to creating a hope-filled city that will attract further investment.”   

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “By acquiring the iconic Hickey Freeman factory and preserving its legacy, Tom James Co. is safeguarding an important piece of Rochester’s history while becoming a key part of its future. I am grateful to Tom James for their commitment to continuing operations at the North Clinton Avenue location and creating or retaining union and salaried jobs for more than 240 unionized workers skilled in the art of garment-making. Thanks to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer for his longtime support for Hickey Freeman, and to Empire State Development and Gov. Kathy Hochul for supporting this acquisition and their continued commitment to expanding our region’s economy.” 

Lynne Fox, International President of Workers United Union, and Rochester Regional Joint Board Manager, Gary Bonadonna, Jr. said, “Many thanks to Senator Schumer for staying focused on preserving the Rochester Tailored Clothing factory jobs, together with the support of Governor Hochul. We are also grateful to the Tom James company for our excellent working relationship and staying the course until completion. We look forward to the future. ” 

Home Leasing CEO Bret Garwood said, “Home Leasing welcomes Tom James to Rochester and is thrilled that they will join our project at Tailor Square.  With their experience and investment, the former Hickey Freeman facility will continue the manufacturing operations as we compete the transformation of the facility to also include much needed affordable housing.” 

Pedro Azagra, CEO of Avangrid, Parent Company of RG&E and NYSEG said, “Preserving skilled labor jobs in our service areas is one of the top priorities of our economic development programs and an example of RG&E’s commitment to continue investing in New York. “The support we provided for the redevelopment of the former Hickey Freeman facility will reinforce many families in the Rochester area and contribute to the healthy economy of Upstate New York.” 

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Bob Duffy, said, “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Senator Schumer and Governor Hochul for their tireless efforts in preserving over 200 jobs at the historic Hickey-Freeman factory in Rochester. Their exceptional teamwork and leadership have paved the way for this accomplishment, securing the factory’s future under the world-class ownership of Tom James and the talent of its dedicated employees. The factory’s significance to the neighborhood cannot be overstated, and we recognize that this win would not have been possible without the relentless advocacy of Senator Schumer and Governor Hochul. This moment is truly cause for celebration, as it demonstrates the power of collaboration and the positive impact it can have on our community.” 

Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt, said, “We are pleased that the Tom James Company senior leadership team has made the decision to expand its operations in the Greater Rochester, NY region. This expansion will not only leverage the assets and talent available in Rochester, but also continue the city’s long history of crafting high-quality clothing. 

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.  

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency ( The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit and

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