North Carolina has a long, proud tradition of making things, from furniture to textiles, Cheerwine soda to Texas Pete hot sauce. It’s one of only three states in which manufacturing makes up more than 20% of total economic output, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. That’s a double-edged sword, as we’ve also experienced the ups and downs of being industry leaders. North Carolina has ridden the crest of success when the sector was booming and new infrastructure was created. We’ve also experienced hard times, including workforce cutbacks, because of recessions and greater competition from abroad.
But one of the great things about our state’s manufacturing industry is its ability to adapt to change, learn from challenges and emerge as a stronger player in our economy. When times were good for manufacturing, new investments in infrastructure and logistics created an expanded, improved transportation industry. When times were bad, we invested in a highly regarded community-college system that creates retraining programs for displaced workers. Manufacturing companies have evolved and adapted to ever-changing economic and technological conditions to improve their services, workflow and other factors critical to their success.
The payoff for our state has been huge. Manufacturing is still big business in North Carolina. According to the national trade group, North Carolina manufacturers employed 10.6% of the state’s workforce, or more than 460,000 employees, and reported total output of $100.1 billion in 2015. Annual compensation averaged $69,417, much higher than in most other sectors. The companies also produced $28 billion in exports last year.
Because of manufacturing’s impact, our history and a promising future, we are happy to be a partner in presenting mfgCON this year. mfgCON is North Carolina’s premier conference for manufacturing and innovation, powered by Business North Carolina magazine and the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership. On Sept. 19-20, manufacturing experts from across the state will converge at Winston-Salem’s Benton Convention Center to share best practices and offer practical advice for creating a safer, more efficient and profitable manufacturing sector.
Now in its third year, mfgCON is a great way to catch up on the latest developments and innovations in the industry as well as network with top manufacturers from across the state. If you are a manufacturer or do business with the industry, I invite you to join us in September.
Information on the event, speaking and sponsorship opportunities can be found at ncmep.org/mfgcon/.