In my previous column, I stated that one of my goals is to make Stanly Community College (SCC) a catalyst for economic improvement in Stanly County. Stanly County's largest economic base is manufacturing. According to economic development data, Manufacturing Gross Regional Product (GRP) represents 17% of the Stanly County economy. The GRP is defined as the market value of all final goods and services produced within an area in a given period of time. In actual dollars, that represents nearly $800 million! It's imperative that we build and sustain this sector to ensure a more vibrant Stanly County. Stanly Community College can help in this endeavor by making sure that local industry has access to state-of-the-art workforce training.
In a recent article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, national economist Christopher King states that our new economy has dramatically changed, " ...employers don't really have the opportunity to wait for workers to go through long-term training before they can put them into the workplace and start taking advantage of whatever skills they've developed." He further states that this has created "...significant pressure on community and technical colleges to do things faster."
One of my first actions as President of Stanly Community College will be to add additional resources to our Economic Development Division (EDD). The goal of our Economic Development Division is to be a catalyst in helping local industry repurpose their workforce into a highly productive labor force. We do this through our NCWorks Customized Training, Small Business Center, and Business and Industry Training.
Our Director of Economic Development, Marion Kinley, has done a wonderful job delivering customized training and developing pre-apprenticeship programs for our local manufacturing base. I want to leverage this excellent work and make sure that all local industry is aware of the many services and training opportunities through SCC. In the next several months, we will be adding additional staff to our EDD. This will allow us to be more proactive in helping local industry to find the resources they need.
One initiative that we are currently implementing is a Production Technician training program. A number of local manufacturers expressed a need for qualified entry-level production technicians. We, in collaboration with industry partners, developed a 13-week program that will train basic workforce skills including team building; communication; problem solving; and soft skills. Students will also have an opportunity to earn a Career Readiness Certificate. The Production Technician program will provide local industry partners access to a trained pool of students ready for entry-level production technician positions, thereby reducing the cost of hiring a new applicant.
This is just one of a number of new ideas that we are considering in supporting our local manufacturers. As I mentioned previously, I am a firm believer in teamwork, and our support of local industry is a clear indication of that commitment. As we move forward, I have challenged our team at SCC to think of new and creative ideas on how Stanly Community College can aid Stanly County be even more attractive to existing business and industry, and to those who may wish to establish roots here. Ultimately, our goal is to help Stanly County grow and prosper through education.
Dr. John Enamait
Stanly Community College