In 1817 Francesco Rossi began a business venture in Schio, Vicenza; after 1849, under the management of his son Alessandro, it was to become the Lanerossi firm.
A member of parliament and then a senator of the Kingdom of Italy, Alessandro Rossi managed to shake up and enliven the economy of Schio by undertaking great reforms and innovations, above all in the woollen sector, and to make Lanerossi one of the most important Italian industries. Despite the difficulties of the times, Alessandro promoted numerous investments for increasing the firm’s productive capacities by introducing technical innovations and by strengthening existing factories and by constructing new ones, such as the Fabbrica Alta, today one of the most imposing examples of the nation’s industrial archaeology.
A great believer in local isolation as then practiced in America, he maintained that uncontrolled international competition was a great obstacle for Italian industrial development. His financial and organizational reconstruction of the firm was the main pillar of his economic policy, so much so that in 1873 Lanificio Rossi’s shares were quoted in the Milan stock market; and in 1877, he established the Italian woollen association in Rome. During this period of renewal by Alessandro Rossi he also created the Jacquard garden, the Jacquard theatre, a nursery school, and a new neighbourhood for workers.
From the beginning of the nineteenth century Francesco and Alessandro Rossi had built up an exemplary industrial complex with high levels of local productive development.