The first written record of Zlín dates back to 1322. Zlín became a town in 1397. The development of the modern city is closely connected to the Bata Shoes company. The town grew rapidly after Tomáš Bat’a founded a shoe factory there in 1894 when the population was approximately 3,000 inhabitants. Bat’a's factory supplied the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I as the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Due to the remarkable economic growth of the company and the increasing prosperity of its workers, Bat’a himself was elected mayor of Zlín in 1923. Bat’a designed the town as he saw fit until his death in 1932, at which time the population of Zlín was approximately 35,000.