MFGCON The NC Manufacturing Conference. Powered by NCMEP and Business North Carolina


In the modern business environment, how does an effective workforce and leadership work together to drive organizational success? Leadership is key in running establishments efficiently, specifically when it comes to manufacturing industries. Knowing how to lead your employees successfully not only adds value to production but also impacts employee engagement and job satisfaction. Our “Workforce and Leadership” track features sessions that will explore how an effective workforce coupled with suitable leadership can support businesses in outperforming their competitors while creating unique opportunities within their organization.

Workforce and Leadership Excellence

Operational Excellence

Technology, Innovation and Strategic Growth

Day 1 Track Sessions

10:45-11:45 AM

Sector Partnerships: Industry Working Together

James Flack the general manager at HSM Machine Works will speak about the importance of recruiting regional leaders to identify issues, how to use and coordinate with existing community resources to address immediate workforce and training needs, conducting outreach to the next generation and more.

James Flock – General Manager, HSM Machine Works

James Flock is the General Manager of HSM Machine Works in Leland, NC, a division of MA Group. MA Group is a leading aircraft landing gear and components manufacturer worldwide. Mr. Flock has been with HSM since 2015 and has over 40 years of experience in the aerospace manufacturing industry. In addition to his responsibilities at HSM, he is one of the founding members of the Cape Fear Manufacturing Partnership. He is the current Chair of the Cape Fear Workforce Development Board.

1:45-2:45 PM

Leading for Success

Geoff Foster – President and CEO of Core Technology
Felicia Woodard –
Senior Vice President, Bank of America

Sponsored by Bank of America

Geoff Foster – President and CEO of Core Technology
Felicia Woodard –
Senior Vice President, Bank of America

3:00-4:00 PM

Employee Recruitment and Retention Strategies to Build Business Resilience

In this session participants will learn about worker engagement strategies through the implementation of worker committee and mentor buddy programs, understand family-friendly workplace benefits and strategies that support employees,using resources and tools to identify family-friendly best practices that can align with your business, hear from employers about the impact of implementing these policies and practices and more. 

Debbie Sigmon – MPA, VP of HR and Safety, Meridian Specialty Yarn Group, Inc.,
Aaron Dawson – Senior Director of Workplace Development, The Industrial Commons
Lisa Finaldi – Community Engagement Leader, NC Early Childhood Foundation

Aaron Dawson is the Workplace Development Senior Director for The Industrial Commons. He leads efforts to create and sustain worker engagement programs through open-book management and worker committees in manufacturing plants. Previously, Aaron worked for 15 years as a Customer Service manager at a large, independent, employee-owned Coffee Roaster in MA.

Debbie Sigmon, MPA is the VP of Human Resources and Safety at Meridian Specialty Yarn Group, Inc. She is a career HR professional and knows how challenging recruitment and retention efforts can be, especially in a tight labor market. Debbie is active in her community and routinely shares best practices for retention with employers.

Lisa Finaldi is the Community Engagement Leader for the NC Early Childhood Foundation, leading the NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Family Forward NC initiative. She is an experienced nonprofit leader at the state, national and international levels.

Day 2 Track Sessions


Fast Track to Hiring Qualified Employees

BSH Home Appliance Corporation HR Business Partner and the Dean of The Volt Center will lead a session about how to best partner with your local community college, develop a successful program to increase applicant pool and retention and integrate onboarding to transition into new hire success.

Jamie Barnes – BSH Home Appliances and
Eddie Foster – Dean of The Volt Center

Jamie Barnes is a New Bern native and is happy to have found her career back in her hometown with BSH as an HR Business Partner. Jamie graduated from William Peace University and continued her education at Western Carolina University earning her Master’s in Human Resources. She continues to use her education, experience and relationships to drive the business to success.

Eddie Foster – Dean of The Volt Center

10:30-11:30 AM

Work Release and Re-entry; Individual, Company, and Economic Impact

A representative from the 2022 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Employer winner, STI Textiles will be presenting on accessing untapped labor, best practices for work release and the economic impact of re-entry. 

Sandra Jenkins – HR Manager, STI Textiles
Brandon Ruppe – Executive Director, Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership

Sandra Jenkins started at STI as a Fabric Inspector and moved through the ranks to become HR Manager. Sandra is very community oriented and has served as the Board Director for the Partnership for Children and the United Way Board. She is pursuing her Associate’s Degree in Operation Management at Cleveland Community College. Her passion for re-entry expands beyond just STI as she is actively trying to start a re-entry council in her community.

Through his experience with the Foothills Workforce Development Board and Cleveland Community College, Brandon Ruppe has assisted companies in recruiting, retaining, and developing employees. He specializes in assisting large and small companies to develop talent pipelines and integrate into the community.