Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Group looking to attract aviation jobs

by Philip D. Brown

North Carolina’s Southeast economic development partnership plans to bolster the region’s economy by bringing the aerospace and aviation industry here, as well as helping renewable energy companies thrive, as well as studying its workers.

“NCSE is cognizant of the slow economic recovery and is designing innovative economic development approaches to help the region,” a press release reads.

The partnership plans to complete a regional workforce analysis, in addition to emphasizing these two industries, as part of its strategic marketing plan for 2010-11.

“The NCSE’s efforts have helped Richmond County for many years and their new initiatives will certainly continue to enhance our economic development efforts,” said Richmond County Economic Development Director and Manager Rick Sago.

NCSE Director Steve Yost said there is potential in Richmond County to locate both aviation and renewable energy businesses, which he said are both high growth sectors and are expected to be for the next decade.

In the case of renewable energy businesses, at least, Yost said there is plenty of room to grow.

“That’s really a young sector, and we’re starting to see companies finally establish themselves, but a lot of these companies are in the infancy stages and don’t have the capital to work the processes they have in place,” Yost said. “But we are beginning to see some of those companies that are capitalized and ready to go.”

He said there are “seven or eight” active projects to locate companies that would turn bio-mass into energy, and cited the recent announcement DuPont will invest $55 million in Bladen County to manufacture components for solar panels.

“With our location, and being in a high growth state, I think Richmond County’s in a pretty good position to capitalize on some of these projects,” Yost said, pointing to the county’s proximity to Charlotte, Wilmington, the Triad and the Triangle.

He also said the aerospace and aviation industry is experiencing growth, with the Honda jet expansion in Greensboro and Boeing’s announcement they will build a new facility in Charleston, S.C.

“What we’re trying to tap into there is some of the growth that the state as a whole is experiencing,” he explained. “... We would like to have suppliers to service these manufacturers locate in our region. This is a high growth sector, and we certainly need to be pursuing high growth sectors, especially in the southeast region where we’ve been hit so hard by this recession.”

Finally, Yost explained the regional workforce analysis study will cost about $150,000 to $200,000, and grants have been applied for, and is set to get underway in September or October.

“Our region has never done a truly in-depth analysis of where our workforce is,” Yost said. “We know we’ve got some deficiencies, and we know we’ve got some strengths, but we really want to drill in and come up with some strategies, especially to address some of our deficiencies.”

He said the study will consist mostly of conversations and surveys with existing businesses in the region, the community colleges, the Career Technical Education departments of the region’s K-12 schools and at least three public universities.

North Carolina’s Southeast was created in 1993 as a way for its 11 member counties to pool their resources in job creation and industry recruitment.

“North Carolina’s Southeast provides a unified and innovative approach to marketing the southeast region to several industry sectors, and this is very helpful to the region’s counties in creating new jobs and developing opportunities to talk to companies about possible locations here,” NCSE Technical Advisory Group Chairman John Swope said.

Since 1996, the NCSE has generated or assisted in the location of 103 companies, more than 8,000 jobs and more than $900 million in private investment to the southeast region.

Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at

Read more: Richmond County Daily Journal - Group looking to attract aviation jobs

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