Report presented by EDC details research on investment priorities
The most promising types of new businesses to target were part of a report presented at Monday’s meeting of the Stanly County Economic Development Commission board.
Research on Investment (ROI), an independent company who works in market research for companies and organizations, produced a target industry snapshot report for Stanly’s EDC which members of the board reviewed.
The objective of the report was to analyze in which categories leads for new businesses should be EDC targets. Those categories were based on the county’s workforce, resources and close location to Charlotte.
A study is required by the federal government every four to six years. The most recent plan was in 2016 which identified energy, food, materials, machinery, transportation equipment and medical testing/supply as the target sectors of industry on which Stanly needed to focus.
Data from that report, along with data from the EDC’s annual work plan, was used to create the snapshot. Lucas said representatives from ROI “were very impressed and surprised with the economic diversity we have here.”
Currently, the largest amount of jobs in Stanly fall within two categories: textile manufacturing and vulcanized/fired materials, the latter of which referred to the Michelin plant in Norwood.
The report stated textile and wood products show above average job performance relative to national numbers while the cluster with the strongest performance has been aerospace (which includes aircraft manufacturing), metalworking technology, construction products, plastics and wood products. Wood products had the highest growth (19 percent) to 455 jobs while aerospace vehicles/defense grew 17 percent to 59 job last year. Only two clusters (business services and lighting/electrical equipment) showed a decline in job growth from 2014 to 2018.
“(ROI) was impressed by the fact we had as many small emerging industries,” Lucas said, referring to medical and e-commerce in the county.
The snapshot grouped the targets into three groups of priorities, rated from one to three in order of which niches were the most promising. The primary group included automotive and aerospace supply chain, plastics and chemicals and distribution, which the report said the supply chain “shows the strongest opportunities.”
In the secondary group, energy supply chain, fabricated metal and food and beverage “are well worth testing to see how the market responds,” while the final group included construction products and machinery. The report noted machinery as a sector not targeted currently “which can serve to support the automation trend of the winder manufacturing sector.”
The report made recommendations as to where nationally and worldwide Stanly should focus recruiting efforts for various industries. States which were mentioned included Michigan, California and Ohio along with Germany, Canada, France and the United Kingdom in categories including transportation equipment, plastics and chemicals and transportation and warehousing.
The Stanly EDC board also had a report from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance regarding economic development opportunities from last year. Out of a total of 51 project opportunities, 43 requested information from the county. Stanly provided information on 10 projects with the CRBA and not others because, according to Lucas, “those are projects we don’t have product for or match up well with.”
Those 10 projects are not the only ones Stanly EDC responded to, Lucas said, noting the county got a number of leads from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which had 10 or 15 throughout 2018. Stanly was also involved in seven e-campaigns using social media, email and other forms to get more information about the county out to various industries, including a tourism campaign.
The Stanly EDC board also received information from the EDC’s Ross Hartsell regarding the Stanly Academic Career Exploration (ACE) event from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center. Middle and high school-age kids will get the opportunity along with their parents to learn about job opportunities in Stanly. The event comes from a partnership with Stanly Community College, Stanly County Schools, the Stanly Chamber of Commerce and the N.C. Works Career Center under a federal Perkins grant.
“We want the kids to engage and the parents to engage; we need parents to help kids with their decisions and to let them know what is out there,” Hartsell said.