Made in Henderson County Campaign Connects Students & Industry

October 4, 2013

The Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development (HCPED) kicked off ‘Made in Henderson County’, a coordinated effort established to enhance connectivity between manufacturing businesses and Henderson County Public Schools on National Manufacturing Day 2013.  The campaign was developed in collaboration with Henderson County manufacturing employers and the school system, focused on promoting local industry, the careers they support, the products they make and the people who make them.

Industry and education stakeholders have developed a calendar of events which will allow students and school staff to interact more closely with manufacturing companies.  On Friday, October 4, 2013, 175 Henderson County Public School students will tour advanced manufacturers Elkamet, Meritor, SELEE Corporation or Wilsonart. Together these employers represent over 1,300 jobs that range from production, engineering, logistics, human resources and finance positions. “Ongoing efforts throughout the year will include additional student tour opportunities, luncheons with Career & Technical Education (CTE) staff, guidance counselors and opportunities for industrial employers to support professional development events for school personnel,” stated Pete Szelwach, Plant Manager of Clement Pappas and Chair of the HCPED Existing Industry Committee.

“Our role as educators is to ensure students are prepared to be successful in both postsecondary education as well as the modern-day workforce. This collaboration is an excellent example of how schools can partner with private businesses to enhance public instruction.  Student tours and coordinated networking opportunities with local industry leaders reinforce classroom instruction with real world career opportunities,” said Dr. Helen Owen, Career & Technical Education Director with Henderson County Public Schools.

“Preparation and planning for this effort began in 2012,” added Szelwach.  “Work leading up to this campaign included in-depth workforce analysis, industry-led small group discussions, committee work sessions and employer specific surveys.  During each of these exercises our industry leaders recognized the need to raise the visibility of the manufacturing sector as a viable career path. It is our hope that ‘Made in Henderson County’ will give students, job seekers and the public insight into the importance and strength of manufacturing as an economic driver, but also heightened awareness of the many products that are made locally.”

“Henderson County, NC is home to 135 manufacturing employers that support a workforce of over 5,250 employees,” stated Nathan Kennedy, Chair of the HCPED Board. “With a combined total payroll of more than $258 million, and average wages exceeding $48,000/year, HCPED believes careers in the manufacturing sector represent a highly attractive value proposition especially for those that value Henderson County’s excellent public schools, higher education opportunities and growing economy.”

‘Made in Henderson County’ also leverages local partners to market available positions to interested job seekers.  The National Technical Honor Society (NTHS), an association of students and alumni in career and technical majors headquartered in Flat Rock, NC, has proven to be a natural ally in this effort.  Executive Director/Co-Founder Allen Powell has developed a unique pilot marketing program to help local employers communicate job openings to a targeted group of NTHS students and alumni with education concentrations in the advanced manufacturing sector.  Powell said, “This partnership represents the value that comes in identifying a common need and collaborating with our friends and neighbors, we are very pleased to be engaged with Made in Henderson County.”

The Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, Inc. 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.  To learn more about “Made in Henderson County” or to get involved please visit or