What’s made in North Carolina makes North Carolina.
Manufacturing plays a significant role in North Carolina’s economy, accounting for nearly 21 percent of North Carolina’s total output and employing nearly 12 percent of our state’s workforce. As the exclusive state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the NC Chamber works every day to advocate for small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector across North Carolina.
From producing lifesaving vaccines and COVID-19 testing kits, to making the personal protective equipment for our health care heroes, and creating new jobs every day, North Carolina’s manufacturers are vital to the health of our people and our economy.
The Current Challenge
While the state’s traditional manufacturing sectors continue to evolve, North Carolina has reinvented itself as a leader in high-tech manufacturing across an array of business sectors, including biotech, pharmaceutical, and aerospace. However, what many may see as a boon for an industry is in fact a double-edged sword: job openings have been growing at double-digit rates since 2017, but so too has the skills gap, which leaves employers unable to fill critical jobs.
Add to that an outdated and misplaced stigma about the industry, and you’ve got the potential for disaster for one of our state’s most enduring industries. Deloitte finds that the skills gap “may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of 2.5 trillion.”
The NC Chamber works closely with our manufacturing members to identify solutions to their most pressing problems. Crucial to these efforts is collaboration with employers, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and education partners in efforts to bridge the skills gap. Removing stigma is key to getting more students enrolled in certification and training programs that ready them for manufacturing careers.
The NC Manufacturing Council
In March 2022, the NC Chamber launched the NC Manufacturing Council for our Cornerstone Members. The Council shares insight on timely topics with subject matter experts for issues including workforce challenges, future talent pipeline, supply chain, and recent trade trends. These virtual meetings gather on a quarterly basis and offer an avenue to address real-life business scenarios with state and national experts. Manufacturers across sectors have the opportunity to network and share best practices. Council members also provide feedback for the NC Chamber’s advocacy priorities and legislative agenda.
The “Coolest Thing Made in NC” Annual Competition
Currently, the NC Chamber is in the midst of its third annual Coolest Thing Made in NC contest — a statewide celebration of North Carolina’s manufacturers that simultaneously educates future workers about the rewarding careers of modern manufacturing. From wheel loaders to wall ovens, DSM fiber to “Duck Tape,” jets to the Jaws of Life, flu vaccines to vocational trucks, last year’s 2021 finalists reflected the wide variety and high-quality of products manufactured in North Carolina. We cannot wait to see what this year’s competition has in store!
Yearly, we promote Manufacturing Day throughout the state, driving fruitful engagement between employers and today’s students (tomorrow’s talent). MFG Day, organized nationally by the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute, champions the next generation of creators, and kicks off a campaign to change perceptions of manufacturing, highlight the exciting careers in manufacturing, and close the widening skills gap.
In addition to these efforts, the NC Chamber Government Affairs team advocates for a jobs agenda that will continue to keep NC first in business. Recent wins include:
- 2017: Protected the Manufacturing Extension Partnership that supports small and medium manufacturers.
- 2017: Senate Bill 257 repealed the costly mill machinery tax, saving NC manufacturers $54 million annually.
- 2018: House Bill 374 reduced burdensome regulations on business.
- 2020: House Bill 118 (Senate Bill 704) protected manufacturers from unwarranted lawsuits stemming from the spread of COVID-19.
- 2020: House Bill 1079 provided relief for businesses that remit sales tax and increased sales tax exemptions on equipment purchases made by large fulfillment facilities.
- View our 2022 Legislative Agenda to learn how the NC Chamber will advance manufacturing in North Carolina this legislative session and drive solutions to the primary problems facing this important sector.
- Learn how the NC Chamber championed issues for NC’s manufacturers in the 2021 edition of How They Voted.
- Learn about the NC Chamber’s Coolest Thing Made in NC contest, created in 2020 to celebrate the incredible products made by NC’s manufacturers. You’ll have the chance to nominate your favorite products August 2022.