Piedmont Triad

AUG 2012

Issue link: https://businessnc.epubxp.com/i/84583

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TRIAD Caterpillar executives Steve Wunning and Rusty Davis with N.C. Deputy Commerce Secretary Dale Carroll, right, at the November opening of Caterpillar's new axle plant in Winston-Salem. ing itself as a player in aviation mainte- nance, manufacturing and distribution. Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. has been flying packages in and out of Piedmont Triad International Airport since building a hub there in 1999. BE Aerospace Inc. — an aircraft mainte- nance, repair and overhaul company based in Wellington, Fla., with opera- tions at the Winston-Salem airport — re- cently won an $800 million contract with Seattle-based Boeing Co. TIMCO Aviation Services Inc. — the nation's largest privately held aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business — has headquar- ters at PTI. Honda Aircraft Co., which estab- lished its headquarters at PTI in 2007, is pursuing Federal Aviation Administra- tion certification and pilot training for its new line of small jets. The aircraft can be seen flying over Piedmont as it goes through the final tests for approval. "When it was time to put the aircraft into production and to choose a location for our global headquarters, PTI was the best choice considering several factors," says Michimasa Fujino, president and 4 chief executive of Honda Aircraft. "The airport supports innovation, the regional leadership supports business, and the Triad is a wonderful place for our associ- ates and their families to live and work." Other aviation businesses cite the local education system, with both community and four-year colleges training workers in aviation, engineer- ing and manufacturing. Kip Blakely, vice president of industry and government affairs at TIMCO, cites the company's relationship with Guilford Technical Community College as a key reason for continuing to expand in the Triad. "Education is at the forefront. If the workforce is not trained and ready, GTCC can get them there. The work- force is the region's strongest asset. They have a history of working with things here in the Piedmont Triad." Today, those things range from nanotechnology to airplanes, buses and truck axles the size of a car. The opening in November of Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar Inc.'s 1 million-square-foot axle plant in Winston-Salem was one of many ribbons cut in the Piedmont Triad B USI N E SS N OR TH C AR OL I N A over the last year or so. "In addition to the great quality of life for our employ- ees here in the Triad and the rest of North Carolina, the relationship with Forsyth Technical Community College is a big part of our decision to locate here," says Rusty Davis, the plant's operations manager. "Our partnership is going to be mutually beneficial for the long term." The new generation of advanced- manufacturing jobs such as those at Caterpillar and TIMCO offers good salaries and ongoing skills training. These jobs are a far cry from the repeti- tive manual labor carried out on the dusty floors of yesterday's factories. Looking at the gleaming floor of the Caterpillar plant at its opening last year, one new employee commented, "People think of manufacturing as a dirty job, but you could eat off these floors, and if you come back in six months, you still could." Both urban and rural areas of the Triad see advanced manufacturing as a big part of their long-term economic futures. Among the advanced manufac- turers that have expanded, moved or returned to the Triad are the Chinese computer-maker Lenovo Group Ltd., Arcadia, Wisc.-based Ashley Furniture Industries Inc., Asheboro-based Carolina Precision Plastics LLC, Asheboro-based PEMMCO Manufacturing Inc., Farming- ton, Mich.-based Henniges Automotive Holdings Inc. and Burlington-based Burlington Technologies Inc. Economic developers say the growth proves that a regional plan to attract companies through an alliance of private, public and educational invest- ment is paying off. Prompted by the loss of more than 40% of the region's manufacturing jobs, institutions of higher education coordinated with the private sector to quickly transform the workforce. "We consider an investment in training programs to be an investment in the people of North Carolina," says David Powell, president and CEO of Caterpillar Inc.

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