Industrial Executives Forum Recap

March 25, 2011

On March 24, 2011 the HCPED hosted the 4th Annual Industrial Executives Forum at Blue Ridge Community College’s Technology, Education and Development Center, bringing leadership from local industries to hear from a select group of speakers covering topics directly impacting the local business climate. HCPED President Andrew Tate kicked-off the event with a concise overview of various programs and support mechanisms which have been designed to assist existing industries with expansion opportunities.

The first speaker was Clark Gillespy with Duke Energy. As the Senior Vice President of Business Development, Territorial Strategies and Economic Development, Gillespy discussed Duke Energy’s role in economic development. Gillespy outlined his past experience with Fluor Daniel Site Selection Group, and how that experience has positively impacted Duke Energy’s economic development program. Utilizing cluster analysis information specifically tailored to their service territories, Duke has put together an excellent team of economic development professionals to assist in the site selection process. Recent projects which Duke has played a critical role include Caterpillar’s decision to locate an assembly plant in North Carolina and several datacenters including Google, Apple and Facebook. In Henderson County, Duke Energy’s proactive strategy has allowed the community to certify western North Carolina’s first Industrial Park under the NC Department of Commerce’s strengthened Site Certification program.

John Franklin with Volvo Logistics followed Mr. Gillespy. After years of experience in the transportation industry, Franklin described the process he took to form the Western North Carolina Transportation Alliance. Stemming from degree work, Franklin envisioned a voluntary association of manufacturers who could work together to reduce freight and logistics costs. Over the past three years the group has grown to include over 40 manufacturing professionals who are directly engaged in the transportation and logistics industry. Franklin indicated that the primary goal of the organization is to help leverage existing expertise in the freight and shipping industry to reduce freight costs, share ideas and identify mutually beneficial freight lanes when possible. “In the freight and logistics industry volume is king. If manufacturers work together to identify common shipping lanes we have the potential to substantially reduce our transportation costs.” Franklin described a recent success story where two companies in the region were able to share a freight lane to Charleston, SC which has resulted in over $100,000 in savings for the participating companies.  John’s presentation slides can be found here.

Dr. Jerry McGee, President of Wingate University, closed the event with comments regarding Wingate’s decision to locate a branch campus to Hendersonville, NC. Since assuming his current role as President in 1992, Dr. McGee described his leadership style as always looking forward  Over the past 19 years while many institutions have been satisfied with the present, Wingate University has remained committed to the future. Dr. McGee affirmed the University’s commitment to fulfilling the needs of future students. During his address Dr. McGee outlined two specific reasons why Wingate University chose to locate a branch campus in Hendersonville. The first factor which motivated the University to local here was the quality of local leadership engaged in the project. “The Henderson County Board of Commissioners and City of Hendersonville Council were instrumental in this process and without their support and the assistance provided by Andrew Tate with Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, we would not be here today.”

The second factor that played a critical role in our decision was the makeup of Wingate’s student body, and that many of their students come from western North Carolina. With a branch campus in Hendersonville, Dr. McGee and the University leadership expect to see talent retention in the Henderson County area.  Over the past 19 years Wingate University has made critical investments in the communities in which it operates, and the move to establish a branch campus in Hendersonville is a testimony to this investment. Graduate courses in the Master of Business Administration program and Pharmacy School are scheduled to begin in Fall of 2011.  View video of Dr. McGee’s remarks.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Industrial Executives Forum, and a special thank you to those that volunteered their time to direct this year’s program:

  • Mike Armstrong, GE Lighting Solutions
  • Carsten Erkel, Elkamet
  • Doug Salkewicz, Advanced Technical Welding
  • Jim Clarke, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers
  • Steve Sheppard, Blue Ridge Metals
  • Pete Szelwach, Clement Pappas