Written by Steven Hughes

L to R: Matt Peterson, Steven Hughes, Rep. Kathy Manning, Geoff Foster, Barbara Williams

Barbara Williams and I (Steven Hughes) of the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) led a visiting team (team #2) that included the president of Core Technology Molding Corporation, Geoff Foster, on a visit to the state’s representatives in Washington D.C. on March 8-9. The team, joined by Matt Peterson from NC State University’s External Affairs office, visited Representative Kathy Manning, who represents NC’s 6th Congressional district, on Wednesday, March 8 in Washington D.C. as part of the national “Hill Day” program education activity organized by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC).

It was such an honor to be representing North Carolina, walking the halls of congress and seeing our US flag and NC flag proudly displayed beside each other when we reached a representative’s office. Representative Manning was nice and easy to talk to. She was curious about how NCMEP is dealing with all the jobs coming to NC. She was pleased that we were in most cases upscaling and training workers. However, she expressed additional concern about who would fill the jobs in food service and retail left open by those workers seeing better pay and training in the manufacturing industry.

The team discussed how the NCMEP represents the state of North Carolina, its relationship to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and what the NCMEP provides to small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) in terms of training and certification related to safety, quality and operations. The NCMEP’s overall goal is to provide vital technology-based services to help manufacturers remain competitive and efficient. While NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES) is the grant administrator and lead technical partner, IES works closely with nine additional program partners across the state to assist and support all North Carolina manufacturers.

The team provided an extensive report to Rep. Manning on how the NCMEP generated over $373 million of economic impact, including 695 jobs retained or created, for her district. Geoff Foster of Core Technology Molding (located in Rep. Manning’s district) spoke about how the NCMEP assisted his business and allowed hire former restaurant workers and upskilled their ability to more technical positions, helping the employees, their families and ultimately positively impacting the economy in North Carolina. Geoff showed Rep. Manning and her staff some of the components Core Technologies manufactured for biopharmaceutical companies. Steven Hughes presented Representative Manning with an IES coin of appreciation for her continued support of the NCMEP, the state of North Carolina and its citizens.