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Archive for July, 2013

Continental Announces Product & Employment Growth

Henderson County, NC – Continental Automotive Systems, Inc. an automotive components subsidiary of Continental AG, announced their expansion plans today at their Fletcher facility.  Growth of the Conti facility will include a physical expansion of the existing footprint by 88,000 sf, and the creation of 40 new jobs, in addition to the current employment base of 626.  The braking instruments and hydraulic systems manufacturer will invest over the next five years more than $35 million in new real and business personal property to achieve the expansion.  The average wage associated with the new positions will exceed $40,000/year, compared to the Henderson County average wage of $32,500/year.

Nathan Kennedy, Chair of the HCPED Board of Directors, said, “Continental’s growth in our community is a reflection of the Partnership’s continued focus on our existing industry.  The products that are made in Henderson County, and the people that make them, are cause for celebration.”

Before committing to expand in Henderson County, Continental completed an extensive evaluation process to consider other location options in North America.  “Henderson County and the Town of Fletcher communicated their interest in encouraging our growth, as well as the retention of our existing workforce.  We appreciate that the business climate here affords us the opportunity to focus on our goals as company,” shared Jeff Scott, Continental Plant Manager.

Over the next five years, as the expansion takes place, Continental will begin production of a new electronic parking brake system that has been adopted across multiple vehicle platforms.  The system is integrated with the brake caliper and is operated with the touch of a button instead of a parking brake lever.

Chairman of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, Charlie Messer stated, “Continental has continually invested in our community, through employment of our friends and neighbors.  Those jobs mean more dollars circulating in our local economy, funding many of the amenities that we define as quality of life, and contributing to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the State of North Carolina.”  Mayor Bill Moore with the Town of Fletcher shared, “Continental is a partner with our community and local government.  We greatly appreciate the positive impact we have seen from their local leadership and workforce, and we are excited that this successful relationship continues.”

Partners involved in the effort to support this project include Henderson County, the Town of Fletcher, the State of North Carolina, Blue Ridge Community College and Duke Energy.  HCPED is a 501(c)6 organization that works to: retain and attract quality jobs; solicit new business compatible with the assets and values of Henderson County; promote Henderson County’s business image; assist expansion of existing companies; and enhance Henderson County’s overall quality of life.  For more information on the Partnership, visit www.hcped.org.  For more information about Continental, visit www.conti-online.com.

Henderson County’s Educational Footprint Continues to Grow

Henderson County is very fortunate to have such a broad range of higher education options in the form of Blue Ridge Community College and the addition in 2011 of Wingate University’s Hendersonville Campus and its graduate program offerings.  Both institutions continue to exemplify education as a key economic development driver for the region.

Wingate University’s growth continues this Fall with the addition of a graduate program in Physician Assistant Studies to add to its existing MBA and Doctor of Pharmacy graduate programs.  To accommodate this growth, Wingate’s downtown Hendersonville Campus will be expanding beyond its current facility at 220 Fifth Avenue East across the street to also occupy space in the Home Trust Bank building.

In terms of specific impacts to the region, Wingate has extensively partnered with the local community beginning with its varied partnerships with area health care institutions such as Park Ridge Health and Pardee Hospital in conjunction with its Pharmacy Program, with more partnerships expected with the launch of the Physician’s Assistant graduate program this Fall.

Other community related partnerships have come in the form of the many local companies whose leaders and associates have taken advantage of Wingate’s part-time, evening MBA Program including GE Lighting, Clement Pappas, Selee Corporation, Park Ridge Health, and Mountain 1st Bank to name a few.

As current Wingate MBA student Mike Armstrong from GE Lighting notes: “The Wingate MBA Program has not only provided a refreshing, updated understanding of the issues impacting my cross-functional global role,  but it has allowed me to think beyond my company’s boundaries and consider a broader view of business management.”

As Henderson County continues to grow, it is clear that the region’s educational footprint will also continue to further expand and higher education will be expected to play a vital role in the region’s economy.

For more information about Wingate’s MBA Program, feel free to attend an MBA Information Session this Wednesday, July 31st at 6:30 pm at Wingate’s Hendersonville Campus, or contact Mark Bryant at mbryant@wingate.edu or 704-846-1404.

HCPED Launches Collaborative Effort to Connect Students with Manufacturing Careers

On Monday, June 10, 2013, leaders of Henderson County industry and the Henderson County Public Schools participated in the first of a series of luncheons designed to enhance the connection between industrial employers and the school system.

The kickoff event was held at Clement Pappas, located in the Mountain Home Industrial Park.  25 middle and high school guidance counselors from across the county learned more about manufacturing and the current and emerging career opportunities in the sector.  Program time was spent with Plant Manager, Pete Szelwach, who currently oversees the 160 person operation.  According to Szelwach, “local industries are adding employment but when trying to recruit young workers, manufacturing is not keeping pace with other sectors, which could be attributed to the sector’s outdated reputation and lack of clear marketing to young workers.”

Following lunch, Szelwach and Kara Bailey, Clement Pappas’ Senior Human Resources Manager, led a tour through the facility, explaining the various processes and highlighting career opportunities within the plant.  Bailey noted that many of the jobs within the company require technical competencies and the ability to troubleshoot and quickly react to issues that arise during the bottling process.

“Preparation and planning for this effort has been underway since 2012,” said Pete Szelwach, who serves as the Chair of the Partnership’s Existing Industry Committee.  Work leading up to the collaborative relationship included in-depth workforce analysis, small group discussions, committee work sessions and employer specific surveys.  During each of these exercises the single most overwhelming take away was the need for simple, yet effective, programming to build relationships between industry and Henderson County’s top ranked public schools system.  “Dr. Helen Owen, Director of Career & Technology Education (CTE) and Counseling, and the Henderson County Public Schools have been outstanding to work with,” says Szelwach. “When asked to be involved they stepped up in a big way and have been extremely engaged in this approach.”

Working together to build this relationship, the Partnership hopes to achieve three specific goals:

1)      Emphasize available careers within the manufacturing sector

2)      Positively impact the number of students who pursue careers in the manufacturing sector

3)      Increase participation in CTE opportunities (job shadowing, internships & apprenticeships)

Moving forward, HCPED and the school system will begin scheduling additional luncheons and industry tours for CTE personnel and guidance counselors.  Work will also begin on plans to tour students in manufacturing environments around the county.  To obtain more information about these efforts, or to get involved directly, please contact Josh Hallingse at josh@hcped.org or 828-692-6373.