Over and over again, economic development officials, area elected leaders and others say that one of the prime ways to draw new business to the area is through better workforce development – especially in the realm of advanced manufacturing.

Proponents of that strategy shined a spotlight on that effort this month when they held the second annual Guilford County Manufacturing Summit, an event that was cohosted by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and Business High Point.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Guilford Technical Community College Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Jamestown, about 200 key players came together to discuss workforce development and trends in manufacturing and the role that education can play.

At the summit, Peter Hans, the president of the NC Community College System, gave the keynote speech in which he emphasized the importance of the role of community colleges in meeting the demand for a skilled workforce.

Hans said that North Carolina’s community college system, which last year helped attract 36,000 jobs to the state, is very highly regarded.

“That’s what our community colleges can do,” Hans told the group of the job creation.

In the two years that the community college system has been in charge of Apprenticeship NC – the state’s apprenticeship program – the number of apprenticeships available to North Carolinians has doubled.

Hans also said at the summit that Guilford County and the surrounding area is gearing up to be a leader in manufacturing.

Guilford County already consistently ranks very high in the state and the Southeast for the number of manufacturing jobs.

“This is a special area with hardworking, capable people,” Hans told the group. “If Greensboro and Guilford County were a stock, I’d be buying it today.”

Guilford County Schools are also playing a big role in the effort to enhance the advanced manufacturing workforce with its revamped Career and Technical Education program, better known as CTE.  This fall, the school district launched five academies that provide career-specific learning experiences to students.

Among the attendees were roughly 40 students who are enrolled in the new Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering at the Academy at Smith High School.

At the summit, in addition to other speakers, three experts gave presentations on trends in manufacturing, followed by question-and-answer.