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Gov. Roy Cooper proclaims Manufacturing Week to highlight industry in N.C.

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a press conference in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

Gov. Roy Cooper proclaimed the week of Oct. 1 through Oct. 7 as N.C. Manufacturing Week, although many organizations and experts in the field continue to celebrate manufacturing throughout the month.

In the proclamation, Cooper urged North Carolina residents to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of manufacturing workers across the state.

Scott Dorney, executive director of the N.C. Military Business Center, said he helps manufacturing workers win federal contracts. 

Dorney said it is very important that the state recognizes Manufacturing Week to promote and increase manufacturing in North Carolina. 

“It’s such a huge part of our economy, and North Carolina has a very unique characteristic that we have a manufacturing-oriented workforce," he said. 

The state's manufacturing industry ranks eighth in the country and makes up 17.1 percent of the state's gross product, according to Cooper's proclamation. The proclamation also noted that North Carolina ranks ninth in the country for the number of manufacturing workers — which is more than 472,000 — and makes up 10 percent of the total workforce in the state. 

The celebration of manufacturing workers in the United States first began in 2011.

The Manufacturing Institute originally launched "Manufacturing Day" to be commemorated on the first Friday of October. The day was later expanded by the U.S. Census Bureau to become Manufacturing Week. 

Phil Mintz, the executive director for N.C. State University's Industry Expansion Solutions, said that for the last couple of years, October has become known as a manufacturing month for those in the industry.

Mintz said manufacturing companies are using Manufacturing Week and the month of October to generate additional awareness and interest in the field. 

"So, they set up these events during the week and during the month to make sure that they have awareness, especially with students in high school, middle school — they just want to get them interested in working in a factory," he said. 

Rohan Shirwaiker, a professor who teaches design and manufacturing classes at N.C. State, said North Carolina has a rich history of manufacturing.

“Traditionally, North Carolina was known for furniture and textiles and agro products. And while some of that continues, today the manufacturing in the state has expanded to high-tech manufacturing of semiconductors, electronics, automotive, even the medical and biotechnology industry of the future," he said.

Shirwaiker also said the manufacturing industry has a very good workforce and institutions that develop and train the next generation. 

The N.C. Community College system offers more than 800 courses covering manufacturing skills, including biotechnology, aviation and defense, pharmaceuticals and other related fields. 

In the proclamation, Cooper said North Carolina manufacturers make significant contributions to the state's economy. He also said that, during Manufacturing Week, the contributions of manufacturers throughout the state during the pandemic will be acknowledged and celebrated. 

Loree Blue is the marketing director for N.C. State Industry Expansions Solutions and the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCEMP), which provides manufacturing extension services to North Carolina-based manufacturing firms. 

She said that during the pandemic, the NCEMP had to pivot to find producers of personal protective equipment, and that manufacturers across the state had to step up and change their production and materials.

Blue also said the NCEMP would promote manufacturing through the end of the month. Cape Fear Manufacturing Partnership and N.C. State Industry Expansion Solutions are hosting a Manufacturing Day event on Tuesday in Leland, N.C.

The N.C. State Industry Expansion Solutions' website also lists an event with a Honda facility tour, hands-on activities and career discussion to celebrate Manufacturing Day on Oct. 26.

@DTHCityState |

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