Education takes center stage at Guilford County Manufacturing Summit

JAMESTOWN The second annual Guilford County Manufacturing Summit, cohosted by Business High Point - Chamber of Commerce and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, was held Thursday at the Guilford Technical Community College Center for Advanced Manufacturing. 


Approximately 200 people from across the county came together to learn about workforce development and trends in manufacturing. 


Peter Hans, President of the North Carolina Community College System, served as the keynote speaker. Hans spoke about the importance of community colleges in meeting the demand for a skilled workforce. 


North Carolina’s community college system is well-regarded. Last year, it attracted 36,000 jobs to the state. 


“That’s what our community colleges can do,” Hans said. 


In the two years the system has been in charge of Apprenticeship NC, our state’s apprenticeship program, the number of apprenticeships available to North Carolinians has doubled. 


Hans said the Triad in particular is poised to be a leader in manufacturing. Guilford County is consistently ranked as number one in North Carolina and number four in the Southeast for manufacturing.


“This is a special area with hardworking, capable people,” Hans said. “If Greensboro and Guilford County were a stock, I’d be buying it today.” 


Guilford County Schools is working to make the area even more attractive to industry through its newly revamped Career and Technical Education, or CTE, program. This fall, the district launched five academies that provide career-specific learning experiences.


Among Thursday’s attendees were about 40 students enrolled in the new Academy of Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, located at the Academy at Smith High School. 


“Workforce development is a critical part of the work that we do at the Chamber,” said Deborah Hooper, COO of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. “We are so excited to have students from the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering with us today.”


Later in the day, three experts gave brief presentations on trends in manufacturing, followed by question-and-answer sessions with the audience. 


The experts were Lizzy Tahsuda, Director of Campus Greensboro; Pete Gresens, Director of Compensation Strategy at Volvo; and Therese Coon, Coordinator for the Business & Industry Training Team at GTCC.


Other speakers included Lonnie Miller, Principal Industry Consultant at SAS, and Josh Ward, Director of Regional Public Affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers.


After the program, attendees were invited to tour the state-of-the-art Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

“If you haven’t seen this space, I really encourage you to do so,” said Patrick Chapin, President and CEO of Business High Point - Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an amazing center here in our own backyard.” 


Thursday’s event was sponsored by Wells Fargo at the platinum level. Additional sponsors included: Truliant Federal Credit Union, at the gold level; Duke Energy, Staunton Capital, Inc. and TowneBank Triad, at the silver level; and Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP and On Event Services, at the bronze level.