@Manufacturing Works

@Manufacturing Works

North Carolina is the fourth largest manufacturing state in the country, and we rank first among southeastern states in terms of manufacturing employment. This sector is changing, and we are uniquely poised to take advantage of it.

Major manufacturing companies historically sought out cheap labor in places with enough infrastructure capacity to produce their products at the lowest cost.  As the global economy offered increased national options, the U.S. saw manufacturing jobs disappear in textiles, agriculture and furniture. Some of those jobs are returning to the U.S., as today’s manufacturing changes.  

 Technology is the major reason for course reversal. Companies are using modern technology to fuel innovation, collaborate with others and design the best product possible. They produce at a higher output and pay higher wages.

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How much do you know about manufacturing in nc?

Take our quick quiz to find out!

All of this data and more is available in the Emerging Issues Commons

hear from manufacturers in north carolina

Watch this story and many more in the Voices section of the Emerging Issues Commons

Learn more

@Manufacturing Report and Infographic

Learn more about new manufacturing opportunities in North Carolina in our latest report here.
Visualize this information in our infographic here

Manufacturing Nationally

Interested in seeing more about manufacturing growth nationally? Check out these great interactive map from TIME magazine’s article, Made in the U.S.A.

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iei taking action

As a result of these sector changes, manufacturing intensive jobs in this sector are changing – drawing higher wages and. in turn, increasing the wealth of communities. In order to capitalize on these gains, North Carolina must be intentional about strategies to take advantage of the potential that this sector has to offer communities all across the state. See what initiatives IEI is taking to harness this potential. 

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28th annual emerging issues forum

Held February 11-12 at the Raleigh Convention Center, more than 1,000 people attended the 28th Annual Emerging Issues Forum, @Manufacturing Works.

manufacturing Vision statement

IEI convened working group members from manufacturing companies, economic development organizations, state government and chambers of commerce to develop public policies to support the state’s manufacturing.  The working group members generated the following manufacturing vision statement for North Carolina:

Manufacturing is in the midst of a generational change, disrupting the economic and cultural fabric of North Carolina.  At the same time, we remain the fourth most productive manufacturing state in the country.  North Carolina’s manufacturing sector leads a vibrant innovative economy, with networked communities, a growing entrepreneurial and maker culture, and a strong commercial finance sector.  Through strong statewide leadership, North Carolina will emphasize the critical importance of tradition and next generation manufacturing to its core economy. North Carolina commits to investment in strong supporting institutions, a highly skilled workforce, developing globally and locally networked communities, world-class infrastructure that creates logistical advantages and the agility to respond to the technological pace of change. 


2013 manufacturing strategies

During the Forum, attendees used the working group vision to prioritize three strategies for improving manufacturing in North Carolina. 

  • Better align manufacturing businesses and North Carolina’s educational systems.
  • Develop a long-term infrastructure plan for North Carolina, one that includes deep-water ports, air travel, roadways, highways/interstates, railroad systems and broadband.
  • Rebrand manufacturing as a career option promoting the value of careers and related training in manufacturing.

During the Emerging Issues Forum, Governor McCrory responded to the priorities and announced that the newly appointed Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata will develop a multi-year infrastructure plan aligned with the second strategy of improving infrastructure in our state. In addition, Governor McCrory announced the appointment of a new Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in the North Carolina Department of Commerce who will serve as a point of contact for industry and share the impact of manufacturing on our state’s economy. This newly appointed individual will, along with major events such as Advanced Manufacturing Week hosted by the North Carolina Community College System, work to rebrand manufacturing as a new, exciting, and viable career path.  To ensure progress on all three priorities, IEI has turned its focus to the first strategy of better aligning manufacturing business and educational systems. 


Didn’t get the chance to have your question answered at the Forum? Find your question — and the answer –in our Speaker Q&A sheet, where Forum presenters responded to questions submitted during the Forum. 

Photos and video

Click through the gallery below to view photos from the 2013 Emerging Issues Forum. Need a summer refresher on the Forum speakers? Look for our videos to be posted on our iTunesU account this summer or follow us on Twitter for video updates. In the meantime, you can download videos from the 2012 Emerging Issues Forum on IEI’s iTunes U page at no cost.


Community forums

To facilitate a better connection between manufacturing businesses and education, IEI partnered with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the North Carolina Community College System to host community forums in several counties throughout the state. The community forums, held from May – July 2013, brought together manufacturers, educators, city and county officials and other community leaders to develop strategies on aligning the needs of manufacturing businesses with North Carolina’s educational systems. 

Help us begin to discover best practices across the state. Support a top statewide priority by sharing your story. How do you align manufacturing businesses with our education systems? Let us know in this quick, two-minute survey, and help support a statewide priority in NC. 

global partnerships

In 2014 the North Carolina Center for International Understanding (NCCIU) will launch Global Leaders to Germany. This program will provide a unique opportunity for representatives from North Carolina communities to learn first-hand about the German system of supporting manufacturing through targeted branding, applied research and development, work-based learning, and community networks.  IEI is sponsoring two communities to participate in 2014 Global Leaders to Germany. Communities eligible for sponsorship and full program participation must have co-sponsored an IEI manufacturing community forum.  Both IEI and NCCIU want participants from communities that are actively engaged in building connections AND successfully moving initiatives to better align local educational systems with manufacturing workforce needs.

To see a full list of eligible communities, click here. Pre and post-trip programmatic activities are scheduled for September 2014.

Emerging Issues Commons

These conversations don’t stop after the Emerging Issues Forum or the several community forums. We want to hear what your community has done, is doing, and/or is planning to do. Add your ideas and community actions to the Emerging Issues Commons manufacturing page


Click here to learn more about how to use this tool. 

manufacturing works @nc state

Manufacturing isn’t what it used to be. Students heard how NC State Alumni from engineering, humanities, business, and design have made their careers in the exciting new world of manufacturing. They learned how their interests fit into North Carolina’s next industrial revolution, and had their voice be heard as we all work together, across colleges, to make NC State University an incubator for a new generation of manufacturing in North Carolina.


Click here to view photos from this event.