Skilled workforce, location advantage build Charlotte USA's manufacturing sector
From trucks to airplane tires, medical devices and massive turbines, Charlotte USA flexes manufacturing muscle.
Globally known companies including Curtiss Wright, Daimler Trucks, Ingersoll Rand, Michelin Aircraft Tires, Schaeffler Group USA and Siemens Energy have major operations in the region, whose manufacturing sector employs nearly 153,000 workers, up 18 percent since 2010.
Advantages for manufacturers include abundant and affordable power and water, a geographic location and distribution infrastructure that make importing and exporting components and products effective and affordable, as well as ample shovel-ready sites, parks and buildings.
Manufacturing fuels the region’s exports, with the top-product categories of transportation equipment, machinery and chemicals totaling $11.9 billion in 2016.
Manufacturers continue to invest throughout the region. New York Air Brake announced in 2018 it will invest $9 million to expand its Rowan County operations and create 100 new jobs to produce freight and locomotive air brake control systems.
Investment from foreign-owned companies is driving growth in the sector, too. Yokohama Tire Corp., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Co., will open a research and development facility in Mecklenburg County, N.C., a nearly $5.9 million investment that will create 56 jobs. And Kurz, a hot stamping and coating technology company based in Germany, will build an $18 million North American headquarters in Huntersville and hire for 90 new positions by 2022.
Doing Business in Gaston County
Gaston County, N.C., boasts a 100-year history in manufacturing. Once known as “the yarn-spinning capital of the worldâ€ for its thriving textile industry, the county suffered manufacturing losses as textile production moved off shore.
Local officials embarked upon a massive diversification effort to retrain the workforce for new advanced manufacturers.
“We also built a number of business parks and invested heavily in infrastructure, and we began targeting foreign companies to establish operations here,â€ says Donny Hicks, executive director of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission. “Today, that has resulted in a long line of international investment in manufacturing.â€
Recent successes include German specialty chemicals company Lanxess investing $40 million and Spain-based CTL Packaging building a $50 million facility to make squeeze-tube packaging for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Israeli company Tosaf invested $17 million to produce resin compounding for the plastics industry and Belgium-based Dhollandia invested $30 million to make hydraulic truck lifts.
In March 2018, Metyx Group from Turkey announced a $12.6 million investment to manufacture textiles for marine, road and rail transportation applications.
“As for American companies investing, Owens Corning built a $130 million facility here to make glass materials that go into about 300 different products,â€ Hicks says.
The Center for Advanced Manufacturing was constructed at Gaston College to support the industry’s growth.
“The center is training a whole new level of workers in these technical jobs that are being created,â€ Hicks says. “In addition, the center is also updating training for people already employed who need to learn new machines, processes and equipment.â€
Over $59,000 Per Year
In York County, S.C., advanced manufacturing plays a major role in the economy.
“From bearings to engine fan blades, lift equipment to seat cushions, hand tools, food ingredients and more, we have an amazing variety of products made in York County,â€ says David Swenson, York County director of economic development.
Advanced manufacturing companies in York County include Atotech USA, Britax Child Safety, Composite Resources, Fomas Inc., Resolute Forest Products, Schaeffler Group USA, Shutterfly, Stanley Black & Decker and TE Connectivity. The county also offers focused manufacturing training programs through York Technical College.
“Manufacturing means employment for nearly 12,000 people representing 11 percent of the county’s workforce, with an average wage that is over $59,000 per year,â€ Swenson says. “Goods made in York County represent $1.8 billion of our $9.4 billion annual economy.â€