Originally published at the NC Department of Commerce News Site, Oct 2, 2017: http://www.nccommerce.com/news/press-releases?udt_4733_param_detail=194595


Key sector of the state’s economy offers attractive career path for North Carolinians


Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina highlights the economic importance of the state’s manufacturing sector this week in a proclamation issued today by Governor Roy Cooper. The declaration of October 2-6 as ‘North Carolina Manufacturing Week’ brings attention to a business sector that employs 460,000 people in the state, represents 20 percent of the state’s total economic output and offers young people a challenging and rewarding career path.

“North Carolina understands and values manufacturing,” said Governor Cooper. “Manufacturing jobs are key to our current and future economy and we need to invest in helping workers and students learn the high-tech skills needed to pursue careers in 21st century manufacturing.”

“Students and their parents are learning that a manufacturing career is much different than in the past,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “Today’s advanced manufacturing facilities are clean and high-tech, and offer good jobs to those with the right skills. The state’s education system offers many opportunities for people to keep their skills sharp throughout their life.”

North Carolina is home to the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast and the 10th largest in the United States – employing more than 460,000 workers,10.6% of the total workforce. The manufacturing sector makes significant contributions to the state’s economy, accounting for 20 percent of North Carolina’s gross state product, fifth-highest in the United States. Manufacturing is a major driver of exports for North Carolina. In 2016, North Carolina manufacturers exported $28.25 billion in manufactured goods.

Governor Cooper and Secretary Copeland will participate in several events to recognize manufacturing this week, and many North Carolina manufacturers and supporting organizations will stage open house and other events leading up to the national Manufacturing Day celebration on Friday.

Governor Cooper will visit Pfizer’s manufacturing facility in Sanford on Wednesday, October 4 to participate in a Manufacturing Week event celebrating Pfizer’s gene therapy plant in Lee County. Genetic research developed at the University of North Carolina plays a key role in the company’s expansion plans and demonstrates the importance of universities and industry working together to transfer technologies developed in research labs to businesses for commercialization and manufacture.

On Wednesday, Governor Cooper will also tour Montgomery County Community College for its Manufacturing Day. Montgomery County Community College will host several high schools, local manufacturers, and industry vendors for tours and on-campus demonstrations to highlight the school’s manufacturing centered training programs.

On Thursday, October 5, Governor Cooper will address members of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) in Raleigh about how to help North Carolina students develop the knowledge and skills needed to compete for good jobs including in manufacturing. Also on Thursday, Secretary Copeland will offer remarks during the opening ceremony for GF Linamar’s new manufacturing plant in Mills River. Secretary Copeland will also offer remarks at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Alamance Community College’s new Advanced Applied Technology Center on Friday, October 6.

The National Manufacturers Association, the country’s largest trade organization for manufacturers, has published a database of manufacturing events being held in North Carolina this week. The database is available online here.

Today’s manufacturing jobs require specialized skills and training that community colleges can help workers attain. Last week, Gov. Cooper toured Forsyth Tech Community College’s soon-to-open Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Winston-Salem. The new center will include state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to support three manufacturing programs where students will train for the jobs of the future.

The North Carolina Community College System works closely with employers and offers more than 800 courses covering manufacturing skills in biotechnology, aviation and defense, pharmaceuticals, financial services, logistics, IT, and advanced manufacturing. Custom training programs offered through community colleges draw on the latest technology and advances in manufacturing production to ensure North Carolina’s manufacturing workers stay a step ahead.

In his budget, Gov. Cooper proposed the NC GROW (Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce) Scholarship to help make North Carolina a Top 10 Educated state by 2025. Good students who graduated high school with a 2.0 GPA or higher would get free tuition to any NC community college through the NC GROW scholarship. NC GROW would cover last-dollar tuition and fees for students who have used up other financial aid options.

Governor Cooper’s entire proclamation for Manufacturing Week is available online.