Nunsâ?? garment-making business looks to expand on Flintâ??s northside

The group hopes to expand to 100 seamstresses in a new manufacturing plant.

Crystal Riggs never thought she'd be a seamstress.

â??I was an addict, I used crack,â?? says Riggs, a life long Flint resident.

Now, she's making nursing scrubs.

â??I have my own house,â?? says Riggs. I'm learning to live on my own without government assistance,â?? she adds.

Crystal is one of 27 seamstresses---once considered at risk---filling orders out of St. Luke's New Life Center.

The program started with two nuns and three workers

Now, there are plans to hire 100 workers and build a new plant.

â??It is not small anymore,â?? says Sister Judy Blake, co-director of the program. â??It has grown considerably and there's more growth ahead for us,â?? she adds.

The expansion project will not only change the face of the sewing operation, it will also change the face of this northside neighborhood. City leaders hope abandoned homes will be knocked down and replaced by new housing.

â??The New Life Center will breath new life into this community and it's well overdue, the people deserve so much more,â?? says Jackie Poplar, who represents Flintâ??s second ward.

If approved, the plant would be 20,000 square feet and once-historic homes would come tumbling down.

â??The projects continue to grow, the orders continue to grow,â?? says Sister Carol Weber, co-director of the program. â??Every time somebody orders from us, it gives the women sustainability,â?? adds the co-director.

â??Itâ??s going to be a lot of families that are grateful,â?? says Riggs.

The project still needs city approval but it has the support of city leaders and Governor Rick Snyder.