JINAN -- At a rumbling workshop in Lizhuang township, East China's Shandong province, cubes of polyethylene are made into nets after procedures including mixing, melting, and drawing.
Meanwhile, workers shuttle back and forth along the computer-controlled warp knitting machines, checking equipment operation.
Outside the workshop, cargo trucks, transportation workers, and advertising billboards for rope and netting companies are ubiquitous on the streets of Lizhuang.
The rope and netting industry in Lizhuang, Huimin county, goes back over 300 years ago. From making whips with cowhide and synthetic rope with hemp and yarn to weaving protective nets and safety nets, Lizhuang has been developing and upgrading this local industry.
The rope and netting products of Lizhuang now cover eight fields, such as construction, sports, and agriculture, with an annual output of 1.2 million tonnes and an annual output value of 16 billion yuan (about $2.33 billion).
The thriving industry also increases the income of the villagers. Today, there are more than 760 rope and netting enterprises in Lizhuang, with over 50,000 employees.
Among the nearly 2,000 staff members, 80 percent are local villagers, with their average monthly salary standing at about 5,000 yuan and some exceeding 10,000 yuan, said Liu Jijie, manager of Hengda chemical fiber rope and netting Co Ltd, which focuses on producing safety nets and sea farming nets.
Encouraged by the changes in Lizhuang, many villagers who had worked elsewhere have returned, especially young people, injecting new vitality into the industry.
Ma Xianhao, a "post-00s" entrepreneur, joined the local e-commerce association last year. After professional training, his online rope and netting store, which opened about half a year ago, now sees its monthly sales exceed 30,000 yuan.
"Supported by the local government, our e-commerce industry has developed rapidly, with more than 3,200 business entities and an annual transaction volume exceeding 2.5 billion yuan," said Fang Shaoshun, director of the Lizhuang e-commerce association.
The rope and netting products in Lizhuang have also entered the international market, exporting products to Australia and European countries.
Lizhuang has more than 30 rope and netting enterprises mainly engaged in the foreign trade business. The annual import and export transaction volume exceeds 800 million yuan.
"To further promote the development of the rope and netting industry, we have introduced 12 specific measures to encourage the enterprises to optimize innovation systems, upgrade their technology, and expand the scale of production," said Gao Yuetian, director of the industry and information technology bureau in Huimin.
The rope and netting industry has become a characteristic industry with wide coverage and economies of scale, Gao added.
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