Guilford County has developed a very powerful secret weapon for recruiting new aviation companies to the area – in particular to the new 800-plus acre megasite under construction at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA).

That weapon will not be secret for long, however, since airport leaders and economic development officials are about to put the weapon to use. PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker talked about it a recent Piedmont Triad Airport Authority meeting, and those selling this area to the outside world are about to start using it far and wide.

The weapon is a statistic – one that reveals that if any aircraft overhaul, maintenance or repair company wants a solid workforce to staff its operations, Guilford County is the clear choice.

Economic development officials list a qualified workforce as extremely high on the needs list for companies scouting prospective new sites and, Baker told the authority that, in that respect, a new aviation study found the PTIA area is absolutely loaded.

“Of all of the students that are enrolled in community colleges in this state in aviation and aerospace programs, 56 percentwere at GTCC [Guilford Technical Community College],” Baker told the authority members.

Of 1,134 students enrolled in those programs in the state of North Carolina, 639 are at GTCC.

Baker said it was incredibly positive that the local community college had over half of all the aviation students in the state.

He added that it gets better.

“Once the Forsyth County program comes on board, that total number is probably going to get up to over 60 percent,” Baker told the authority. “Over 60 percent of the aviation trainees in the community college system in the whole state are right here in our community.  That says an awful lot about what we are doing to grow the labor force.”

That number is expected to make companies considering aviation sites in the Southeast really sit up and take notice of PTIA as that airport begins its effort to recruit aviation companies to the megasite.