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Posted Friday, August 22, 2014
Siler City, NC - Excitement is running high at Central Carolina Community College as it works with city, county, state and industry representatives to develop a blueprint for workforce training at the Chatham-Randolph industrial manufacturing megasite.
The 1,800-acre Chatham County site, located northwest of Siler City, is ideal for an automotive assembly plant as well as original equipment manufacturers, according to Southern Business & Development magazine. It ranked the megasite as the No. 3 site in the South - and No. 1 in the state - for an auto assembly plant.
The college provides a wide variety of workforce training for businesses and industries in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties, and beyond. It is already beginning to map out the skills it anticipates will be needed by auto assemblers and original equipment manufacturers. A training center at the site is under consideration.
"We are thinking through the credit and non-credit implications of the industries' arrival and, of course, what sorts of resources we'd need to be prepared," said Dr. Pamela Senegal, CCCC vice president of Economic and Community Development. "An advanced manufacturing training center at the Chatham-Randolph megasite? I like it!"
In June, the site was certified as a megasite by North Carolina's Certified Sites program, the first site in the state to receive that designation. An independent panel of economic developers, utility providers and engineers reviewed the site and found that it meets the standards for 30 criteria identified by site selection consultants for medium to large industrial projects. These include site size; utilities availability; access to highway, rail, and air transportation; environmental appropriateness; workforce availability; and other criteria.
"Now that we have site certification - which documents that the site is ready for development, the next step is to have a detailed plan to train over a thousand employees, documenting that the work force will be ready as well," said Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation. "Central Carolina Community College will be an important partner in developing this plan."
The undeveloped site, located in Chatham County with some acreage in Randolph County, has frontage on Highway 64 and is near Highway 421 and Interstate 85. It offers 5,000 feet of rail frontage and is less than 50 miles from two international airports, Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) and Piedmont-Triad International (GSO).
Duke Energy selected the site to participate in the company's 2013 Site Readiness Program, which assists communities in competing for new companies and jobs.
CCCC President Bud Marchant compared the potential economic impact of the megasite to what has happened in South Carolina with the influx of automotive assembly plants and original equipment manufacturers.
According to a report by the Moore School of Business, "The Economic Impact of South Carolina's Automotive Cluster" (University of South Carolina, 2011), "Over the last thirty years, South Carolina has developed a flourishing, globally competitive automotive and ground transportation cluster [that is] a major engine of economic growth in the state."
International automotive and transportation-related companies such as Michelin, Bosch, Daimler, Honda, BMW, and others have set up business in South Carolina. They have become part a larger network of businesses, forming a cluster that generates an economic impact of more than $27 billion to the state.
"The same can happen in North Carolina," Marchant said. "There is plenty of room for companies at the megasite and industry there will attract supplier industries and manufacturers to the state and region. The location is ideal, the opportunities are there, and CCCC is preparing to train the workforce for the well-paying jobs that will be brought to the region by industry."
Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, said that a certified megasite brings great opportunity for both economic and workforce development locally, regionally and statewide.
"Our community colleges were built on the foundation of responding to industry needs," Ralls said. "Central Carolina Community College is well-positioned to prepare for and respond to the training and education needs of any potential megasite projects."
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