It’s shocking to me, but it has been 10 years since the first national Manufacturing Day was established. And we can debate dates: was it 2012? 2014 when President Obama signed a proclamation? It doesn’t really matter, and in many ways, that seems like eons ago. 

As a nation, we have discovered or perhaps rediscovered what manufacturing means to this country and our health, safety and prosperity during the pandemic. We all now know what it means to hear “supply chain shortages” and to become accustomed not to find the products we are used to on store shelves. Often with no rhyme or reason.

What I hope we all have learned is that we still manufacture things in this country.  Many things. Necessary things. Often things that we don’t even realize: parts that go into other parts that go into larger parts. Unseen and unrecognized, but crucial. And as we evaluate and analyze our supply chains for defense and national security purposes, we are beginning to understand that we need to ensure that we can manufacture what we need. It’s not only a consumer issue; it’s a national security issue.

North Carolina has over 10,000 manufacturers. It ranks 5th in the nation and 1st in the Southeast. Manufacturing is the 3rd highest employer in the state, and its wages are in the top 10 in the state.  And manufacturing has changed. These are very good jobs that require highly-skilled workers. And if you haven’t seen a manufacturing facility lately, I assure you that their floors are cleaner than mine. That may not be saying much (not the best housekeeper), but you get my point. Recent announcements lend credence to this as Toyota prepares to open a battery facility for electric vehicles and other companies are picking the state seemingly every day. 

Manufacturing is innovating constantly with robots, cobots, data and sensors, but what is really needed are workers. There is a fear that automation will replace workers; that is untrue. What automation will do is allow the workforce to fill positions that require more precision and intelligence. Manufacturing needs workers for the thousands of jobs being added. 

So on Manufacturing Day, hug a manufacturer or shake their hand. They are the backbone of our economy. Please celebrate with me on this day.  Here is a very short list of a few things made in NC:

  • School buses
  • Campbell soup
  • Compression socks (near and dear to my heart due to a medical condition)
  • OPI nail polish
  • Butterball turkeys are processed here
  • Unique cutting boards
  • Parts for Honda and Toyota cars
  • Aerospace components including engines
  • Furniture
  • Olympic equipment and fabrics for Olympic team uniforms
  • Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • Burt’s Bees products
  • Tortillas
  • Computer electronics

As I said…a short list. I could go on and on. With our 10,000 manufacturers, we make a lot in this state and supply a lot to industry. Happy Manufacturing Day.