Surry County NewsRead about new business, events and news that effects life and commerce in the western Piedmont Triad.
The County of Surry is pleased to announce the appointment of an Airport Manager who will oversee operations on behalf of Surry County at the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport. George Crater has been named to the position, effective January 1, 2019.
Mr. Crater has been employed as Planning Director with the Town of Elkin since 2006. In this role, he was responsible for management and oversight of Elkin Municipal Airport. His airport oversight experience includes: short and long-range planning for general aviation challenges, directing administrative and financial activities, new hangar development, capital improvement program, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and North Carolina Division of Aviation (DOA) grant compliance, and coordinating with engineering firms.
Mr. Crater has additional experience that will be beneficial in his role as Airport Manager. These include public relations with airport tenants, storm water administration, member of Northwest Piedmont Rural Planning Organization Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), land use planning and code enforcement, and experience as a volunteer firefighter with the Elkin Fire Department.
Mr. Crater graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Economics and has a Certificate in Municipal Administration from the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
County Manager Chris Knopf said, “I would like to welcome George to our team, and we look forward to working with him. His experience in public sector airport management will bring much needed day-to-day oversight to the airport’s operations.”
Mr. Crater stated: “I am looking forward to this opportunity of working with Surry County and surrounding municipalities. It is exciting to be involved in the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport program and all the projected growth. The aviation program is and will continue to be an asset to many surrounding communities. Again, I am excited for this opportunity Surry County has given me.”
The Airport Authority has been operated as a blended component unit within Surry County Government since May, 2017, following the results of an audit review of the airport’s operations. At that time, the Authority relinquished day-to-day management and fiscal oversight to Surry County. In the recent past, airport management has been contracted out to a third party, Ra-Tech Aviation. Ra-Tech will continue in their capacity as the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at the airport, providing aeronautical services such as fueling, common hangar space, tie-down and parking, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, etc.
The Mount Airy/Surry County Airport is located at 146 Howard Woltz Jr. Way, Mount Airy. For additional information, contact: Sandra Snow, Assistant County Manager, at 336-401-8202.
An existing business will be calling Elkin its new company headquarters after the town was awarded a $125,000 grant to help renovate a building for its use.
The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved 21 grant requests of nearly $7 million last week, and the grant for the former Chatham Plant 4 building along East Main Street/N.C. 268 Business was one of those approved.
The 19,500-square-foot building has been vacant for three years and was owned by Surrey Bank & Trust prior to its purchase by ACC Coatings out of New Jersey. The company manufactures water-based, food-grade liquid coatings for direct food contact applications, such as antifog applications inside of premade-salad bags found in grocery stores, explained Leslie Schlender, director for economic development for Elkin.
ACC Coatings, which was established in 2005, plans to move its entire operation from Middlesex, New Jersey, to Elkin, which will create 10 jobs and be an investment of $1,059,641, according to a release from the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.
The $125,000 grant is part of the RIA’s Building Reuse Program, said Schlender, who completed the grant application on behalf of the town and ACC Coatings. The funding will be put toward a total renovation project of about $400,000 to get the building, which sits just to the east of the entrance to Chatham Park, ready for use.
“It’s a wonderful program the town has been successful in using,” Schlender said, noting that other Elkin projects have included Prism Medical Products, Pittsburgh Glass Works (now Vitro) and Burchette & Burchette Hardwood.
About 80 percent of its existing employees will relocate with the company to Elkin, bringing ACC Coatings closer to some of its customers, Schlender said. “They told us the cost of doing business in North Carolina was attractive to them,” she said of another reason for the relocation.
There is a need for good housing for the relocating employees, she said, both for professional apartments and homes for purchase.
“From the start, David Steele [ACC Coatings CEO] and his team have been wonderful to work with, and given their frequent trips down from New Jersey in this transition, are already becoming welcomed and involved members of our community,” Schlender said.
Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop said, “ACC Coatings is a great fit for this building, and we are thrilled they have seen what we know, that the cost of living, quality of life amenities and the access we have to the I-77 shipping corridor, that Elkin is a great place.”
Schlender said as the company transitions, it will be operating out of its New Jersey location and its Elkin location to ensure a seamless shift for its customer base, and that it could take up to a year for the full move to take place.
“We are very excited that ACC Coatings is opening a new location in Elkin in the former Basalt Products building,” said Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. “We have worked with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Surry County, Surrey Bank and the town of Elkin to help them with this new location.
“Surry County is a great location for companies, and we are glad that we could be a part of this important project.”
Schlender said, “ACC Coatings are a perfect example of how a professional company can move to a rural community and be successful.”
Also, she said she is excited because this project has jobs with it. Some of the other companies who looked at purchasing the building had planned on using it for commercial storage.
The town will benefit in another way, as ACC Coatings is working with town officials to ensure an easement for the driveway into Chatham Park and to a future entrance for a planned RV park on adjacent property along the Yadkin River, Schlender said.
“ACC Coatings spent many months searching for the optimal location for our growing company,” said Steele in the news release. “Surry County, and in particular Elkin, offered to my company an excellent combination of building size, and location and price that was better than all of the other potential sites that we evaluated.
“Our customers are spread throughout the United States and the convenience of the interstate highways just minutes from the building provide us with multiple shipping options that will help us keep our shipping costs under control, and will also insure a steady and seamless supply of our incoming raw materials used in the production of food-grade coatings,” he said. “Surry County is a great location for companies, and we are glad that we could be a part of this important project.”
Steele commented on the “added and unexpected bonus” of a “warm and welcoming reception we have experienced from the town of Elkin and the local people and businesses. All of these people have shared their own positive experiences in setting up their small businesses, and they have welcomed us into their community.”
While thanking all of the partner organizations in making the grant and project successful, Steele in particular noted the helpfulness of Tucker and Schlender for “their help, advice, guidance (and patience) in helping me get this deal completed.”
Surry County, September 24th,2018 – Manufacturing Day is an annual national event executed at the local level supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses, plant tours and presentations designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers.
In celebration of Manufacturing Week, the Surry County Economic Development Partnership will offer multiple events in conjunction with local schools and manufacturers during the first week of October. The coordinated activities during Manufacturing Week include: tours of local industries, education fairs and a Manufacturing Day community event on the main campus of Surry Community College, Friday, October 5th. Approximately ten companies will open their doors to elected officials, community leaders and the public as part of an effort to change people’s perceptions about today’s manufacturing environment and draw attention to the outstanding opportunities that a career in manufacturing can provide. Middle school, high school, and college students (including four k-12 school systems) will have the opportunity to tour Computer- Integrated Machining, Electronic Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Engineering Technology, and Welding departments at Surry Community College, as well as engage with local companies for Job Connection on site during Manufacturing Day, October 5th, 2018.
Manufacturing is alive and well in Surry County, and our local economy is positively impacted directly by the manufacturing community. There are over 4,377 people employed in manufacturing positions in Surry County, making up 14.7% of our total labor force. The average weekly wage for those employed in manufacturing is $768.15 in Surry County.
Surry County has a rich tradition of manufacturing quality products and is home to the men and woman who make these products every day. We are proud of our history, variety of advancing products and a dedicated labor force to make this possible each day. Manufacturing Week is also a dedicated time to also expose the technical training available through our schools and community college and also a chance to highlight rewarding and lucrative careers with Surry County Manufacturers.
For more information contact the Surry County Economic Development Partnership (336)-401-9900 Website: www.surryedp.com or www.facebook.com/Surry-County-Economic-Development-Partnership
Visit www.mfgday.com for additional information about National Manufacturing Day 2018
We have all heard about the skills gap and challenges industry faces in finding skilled workers to fill jobs in a highly-automated and rapidly-changing global economy. To remain competitive, businesses must now become more deliberate in how they manage their talent supply chain.
Strategic partnerships between education and industry are more critical than ever. The need to act collectively to more closely align the education-to-work continuum has increased as our state and national economies creep closer and closer to full employment.
To be more responsive in the war for talent, Surry Community College (SCC) and its partner institutions in Surry and Yadkin counties are rolling out new innovative strategies that seek to better align workforce programs to the needs of area employers, close leaks in the talent pipeline, and thus become more responsive to the employment needs of businesses in their service area.
The effort started several years ago, when SCC and Surry County Schools began a joint effort to purposely connect STEM and career and technical education programs offered in the district’s middle and high schools to occupational and technical programs available at the college. The partners hold STEM Camps in the summer to bridge learning and experiences, and offer STEMersion Experiences for teachers so they can see first hand how the application of math, science, English and other core subjects are applied in the workplace.
Under the collective leadership of David Shockley, President of SCC, and Travis Reeves, Superintendent for Surry County Schools, a new approach was taken this past year to help reduce the cost and time to completion for students to become college and work ready. The Surry County Career Academy was created to replicate the early college model, which allows high school students to earn their high school diploma and an Associate Degree over a four- to five-year span, through an innovative high school framework that focuses on the workforce needs of local businesses.
The Academy was designed to be more responsive to area businesses’ employment concerns by building pathways in targeted business sectors that add an internship component to the educational requirements needed for graduation. Using the middle school STEM career exploration programs, career coaches would identify students with self-expressed interest in a particular career pathway and help those interested complete up to four high school courses prior to entering the Academy. This accelerated path would provide the additional time for students to complete most graduation requirements and enroll in SCC in their junior and senior years. These students take college classes part of the day, work up to 20 hours a week as an intern, and complete their third and fourth level math and English courses through a virtual platform.
With a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the Career Academy started with 12 students, is expected to grow to 20 students in year two, and is expected to grow to 30 students in the third and final year of the grant. Each student was placed in an internship with a local business during the spring semester. Funds from Golden LEAF were used to hire a career coordinator for the Academy, to cover the initial stipends paid to interns for work, and to assist students with transportation to and from work. It is anticipated that participating businesses will contribute toward sustaining the internship component once it is fully operational.
Results from the initial year are impressive. Four of the 12 students recently graduated and signed employment contracts with their host companies. Two of those students have plans to continue studies at SCC. One graduate will be using the graphic design skills she learned at SCC in her job at Nester Hosiery. Another signed to continue working with Johnson Granite in the computer-aided design department. A third graduate was hired as a logistics technician by Leonard Building and Truck Accessories. And, a fourth signed to take a full-time job at Surry Communications.
Two of the four students hired by local businesses will continue their education at SCC while working. Four additional interns will begin four-year university programs in the UNC System. The remaining interns will return to the Academy next year to complete their senior year. In addition to the businesses, parents are showing strong interest in the program. After the initial year, more than 30 students have indicated interest in enrolling in the Academy for the 2018-19 year.
And there is more. SCC recently opened the G. Allen Mebane Industrial Training Center in Yadkinville. This expansion will offer citizens in Yadkin County the opportunity to get a college degree or meaningful credential without having to drive to another county. The Center will focus on the workforce demands of companies like Unifi, Lydall, and other manufacturing and logistics companies located along the I-77 and Highway 421 corridor.
This expanded footprint will allow SCC to offer training in the following areas to assist companies with their workforce needs: computer integrated machining, mechatronics, welding, electrical systems, electrical engineering, and truck driver training. Previously, individuals from Yadkin County that were interested were seeking employment and needed training in these fields had to drive thirty minutes one way from Yadkinville to SCC’s main campus in Dobson. In addition, the Yadkin County Commissioners have also provided funding to Surry CC to establish the Yadkin Guarantee, which provides students graduating from Yadkin County high schools free tuition to attend Surry CC programs at the Yadkinville campus.
The stage is set so that the innovative approach taken by SCC and Surry County Schools on the northern end of SCC’s service area can now be replicated in Yadkin County thanks to support from the Yadkin County Commissioners, Connect NC Bond funds, and grants from Golden LEAF, the Mebane Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Duke Energy, and the Cannon Foundation.
This innovative approach to better align the education-to-work continuum should provide benefits for all parties involved. Reducing the costs of attending college and the time to completion are attractive value propositions for students. A more responsive training system should also produce benefits to area businesses by having a larger pool of highly qualified workers available to help grow business activity in the area, and reduce the cost of hiring and retaining workers.
Eight engineering students at Surry Community College landed advanced manufacturing jobs in April at WestRock’s Merchandising Displays Division in Winston-Salem, right before the college’s spring commencement services in May.
Five of the students are studying in college’s Mechatronics Engineering Technology program, while three others are training in the Electrical Systems Technology program. They will all be working as Maintenance Technicians.
Newly hired Electrical Systems students are Michael Cummings of Rhonda, Aaron Morse of Pilot Mountain, and Alfonso Popoca of Boonville, while recently hired Mechatronics students are Shay Wilson of Mount Airy, William Davis of Mount Airy, Kevin Hernandez of Yadkinville, Jesus Fuentes of Yadkinville, and Andrew Overby of Yadkinville.
“On behalf of Human Resources and the Maintenance Department, I would like to once again say thank you for allowing us to visit Surry and meet with your extraordinary students,” Veronica Hritz, Human Resources Administrator at WestRock said. “Our Maintenance Department was in need of highly trained, quality people, and you were able to step in and fill that need.”
WestRock (NYSE:WRK) partners with customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. The company has 45,000 team members who support customers around the world from more than 300 operating and business locations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
“We have worked very hard to prepare our students for advanced manufacturing jobs such as the opportunity at WestRock,” said Doug Slate, Mechatronics Lead Instructor at Surry. “All of our Mechatronics students eligible for our upcoming graduation already have, or have been offered jobs. I am so happy for them all.”
Surry Community College offers the Mechatronics and Electrical Systems programs at the Dobson campus, along with the Yadkin Center campus in Yadkinville. At each location, students can earn a two-year degree in Mechatronics. Electrical Systems is a new program offering for Yadkin Center, beginning Fall 2018, when students can start their Electrical studies in Yadkin County.
Slate explained that Mechatronics takes the electronics, mechanical and robotics part of advanced manufacturing and teaches students how they tie together.
“Mechatronics students are highly skilled, high-tech trouble shooters. They need to be self-motivated individuals who are inquisitive and want to know how things work and like to work with their hands,” Slate said. “Companies also want workers who understand predictive maintenance, which is a key focus of Mechatronics. The field of study pays well – workers skilled in Mechatronics start at an average of $25 per hour.”
Joey Boles is the Lead Instructor of the Electrical Systems program at Surry.
“Graduates of the Electrical Systems program at Surry Community College qualify to do most anything in the electrical field such as electrician, industrial plant maintenance technician, electrical engineering assistant, renewable energy consultant or solar panel installer,” Boles said. “Both Electrical and Photovoltaic tracks take two years of study to complete, and with some of the courses being the same, students can get a double major by taking five more classes.”
The Electrical track includes basic wiring for residential, commercial and industry and covers all aspects of the wiring phases. Someone with this degree can get into any electrical system field. These classes cover programmable logic control and prepares students to become an industrial electrician or work in any type of business. The Photovoltaic (PV) or solar track covers more on the renewable energy side with wind turbines and micro hydropower systems.
With a looming electrician shortage in the United States, students studying to be electricians have a huge opportunity to be successful. The need for electricians is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to estimates by the United States Department of Labor, yet the number of young people obtaining electrical licenses is in drastic decline. Graduates of Surry Community College’s Electrical Systems program have a bright future with an abundant job market due to this demand. An electrician’s average pay is around $50,000 annually.
High school juniors and seniors can benefit by taking Mechatronics Engineering and Electrical Systems classes – tuition-free – through the Career & College Promise at the both the Dobson and Yadkin Center locations. Each program area offers a two-year degree, one-year diploma and certificate options.
If you have questions about the Mechatronics Engineering Technology program, contact Doug Slate at (336) 386-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are inquiring about the Electrical Systems program, contact Joey Boles at (336) 386-3267 or email@example.com.
Registration for the summer and fall semesters is going on now at Surry Community College. The deadline to register for summer classes is May 18 with summer classes beginning May 21. Fall registration is open until Aug. 3, and fall classes begin Aug. 15. For more information, go to the registration page or call (336) 386-3264.
A crowd of more than 200 economic developers, educators and business leaders gathered at Grandover Conference Center today for the unveiling of a Triad talent alignment strategy that seeks to develop the region’s workforce to match industry needs over the next 10 years.
The strategy represents over a year’s worth of work to understand where the Triad’s workforce has been, where it’s at and where it’s going, in order to better train the Triad’s workforce.
Some of the highlights of the study showed the Triad, since 2007, saw a net decline of 60,000 jobs, but has added 50,000 jobs since the recession. The largest industry clusters in terms of jobs are health care, retail, entertainment and back office. The study also showed the region can expect labor shortages in industries such as health and biomedical, manufacturing and production, engineering and professional services.
And demand for health care professionals is expected to be the strongest through 2026, with an expected 15,000 new jobs in the field during that time.
Penny Whiteheart, executive vice president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, addressed the crowd, rolling out a six-goal strategy developed in conjunction with the project’s steering committee and consulting firm Jones Lang Lasalle.
Whiteheart said the six goals will be implemented over a decade, but today’s rollout focused on three broad goals to be implemented within the next year and a half.
Goal one will be to ensure employer engagement in the Triad is coordinated, consistent and results-oriented. To achieve this goal, Whiteheart said, three sector councils are expected to be established by the end of 2019 to target specific industries. Those partnerships, which will consist of industry leaders in the region, will focus on collaborating with institutions to better align workforce development to their needs.
Whiteheart told Triad Business Journal the first two industry councils will likely focus on the health care and advanced manufacturing industries, but how quickly industry leaders are able to move forward on the partnerships will ultimately determine which industries will first establish their own councils.
The end goal is to have four industry councils established, which will likely entail an individual focus on four broad industries driving growth in the region: health care; manufacturing and advanced manufacturing; transportation and logistics; professional services and back office.
Goal two of the three goals to be implemented over the next year and a half will be re-engaging populations within the workforce that are either unemployed or underemployed. To accomplish this goal requires a strategic communication campaign to increase awareness of the opportunities for career advancement and to highlight and promote the value of post-secondary training and education for the workforce.
And goal three will be increasing awareness of the Triad as an attractive place to live, work and play. The crux of accomplishing this goal is developing a talent attraction and retention website that will serve as a central landing point to connect the region’s talent to employment opportunities. This type of website, Whiteheart said, is already being utilized in the Triangle and Charlotte area, and, in addition to attracting talent, can also serve as a marketing tool to land companies interested in moving into the region.
Triad Business Journal has previously reported the six goals developed from the workforce study, but up until now has not had specifics on a timeline of how and when the goals will be implemented. Click here for the full list of goals.
Other speakers at the event included PTP President Stan Kelly, HAECO Americas CEO Richard Kendall, Piedmont Triad Regional Council Executive Director Matthew Dolge and Action Greensboro Executive Director Cecelia Thompson.
Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, was also in attendance. Chung spoke with TBJ about the role EDPNC plays in helping the Triad land projects by directing companies that are looking to expand to the Triad area. Chung noted that though the Triad’s workforce and lower business costs keep the region competitive, it often suffers from lack of out-of-state name recognition compared to areas such as Charlotte and Triangle.
But, as noted by PTP President Stan Kelly in front of the crowd of attendees, the Triad and central North Carolina in general have the assets to be the next logical place of growth for the state.
“If we do a better job of telling our story, our workforce numbers will grow,” Kelly said.
In addition to the PTP and Action Greensboro, the project was funded by economic development agencies across the Triad, including the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Winston-Salem Business Inc., the High Point Economic Development Corp. and others.
BizFest exhibitors from businesses and nonprofits across Surry County attend a seminar on collaboration at The Liberty in Elkin Thursday afternoon.
Amanda Pearce and Marie Palacious present a seminar on “Competing or Collaborating” during the kick-off for BizFest Thursday afternoon.
BizFest exhibitors from businesses and nonprofits across Surry County attend a seminar on collaboration at The Liberty in Elkin Thursday afternoon.
The seventh-annual BizFest will be held at The Liberty in Elkin on Thursday from noon to 6 p.m.
The event alternates between Mount Airy and Elkin, said Todd Tucker, president of Surry County Economic Development Partnership (SCEDP), which puts on the exhibition. The Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsors
“BizFest is a business expo that features the business in Surry County, and focuses primarily on the small business,” said Tucker. “It gives them a chance to show off their products and services. It’s mainly a business-to-business event, but the public is always welcome to attend.
“It’s a good way for people to become aware of the companies we have here, so they can buy their products, use their services and shop local. We want to keep all that money here.”
Starting off the event is a kick‐off celebration from noon to 1:30 p.m. WorkForce Unlimited and the Small Business Center at Surry Community College will present Amanda Pearce and Marie Palacious with Funding for Good to facilitate an interactive session on successful partnerships, titled, “Competing or Collaborating? Keeping the Community in Mind and Dollars in Hand.”
“Our goal will be to explore ways to grow your business through innovative partnerships across diverse business sectors. Many business owners struggle with finding new ways to grow their business, how to find needed services and how to engage partners to strengthen your work,” reads BizFest promotional materials.
The exhibition will feature 42 vendors representing Surry County businesses.
Duke Energy and the town of Elkin will host a Business After Hours event from 4 to 6 p.m. to wrap up BizFest. The exhibitor booths will remain open during this time to allow additional networking opportunities.
“The chamber is pleased to be a part of it,” said Randy Collins, president and CEO of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce. “BizFest is a great way to showcase our local business community. I invite everyone to come out on the 12th.”
The Liberty is located at 222 E. Main St. in downtown Elkin.
Surry Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Day on Friday brought in 350 students from area schools to get information about training, education and jobs in advanced manufacturing.
Middle school students arrived from Mount Airy and Elkin along with high schoolers from Mount Airy, North Surry, Forbush and Elkin.
“I promise you won’t have trouble finding a job if you have the skills,” said Doug Slate, mechatronics engineering lead instructor, to a group of Mount Airy Middle School students.
He then talked numbers, telling them that graduates of his two-year program who learn the necessary skills are qualified for jobs in Surry and Yadkin County with starting pay of $21 to $22 per hour. He said if they were willing to drive to Winston-Salem, they could make $32 an hour, but admitted that was the exception. Those jobs average $21-$24 an hour.
“That’s right out of school,” he said. “With excellent benefits.”
Slate went on to say that he knew of 30 open positions — but telling the students they might have to drive to Winston-Salem or Iredell County — and the college only graduated four people last year. “It’s been that way for several years,” he said. “Eighty percent or better have jobs before they walk across the stage to get their diploma.”
Slate made the case to the students that a two-year technical degree in his mechatronics program — which he defined as a combination of mechanics, electronics and robotics — was an alternative path to a four-year degree. “People with four-year degrees are calling me and saying they want to come back and take my program.”
Martha Holt, a North Surry senior, said she was most interested in seeing the larger robots. She has worked with one of the smaller models in high school and wants to see how it applies to the real world. Martha said she was interested in bio-medical engineering, specifically making medical devices.
Jordan Crowson, a mechatronics instructor, was showing students how the largest of Surry’s four robots works. The big yellow machine is capable of lifting several thousand pounds, according to Crowson.
“We’re the only college in the state that has a set-up like this,” he told the students.
“Students learn to program the robots,” he said. “But the simulation software is like a video game. This is real.”
Russell Jones, Electronics Engineering lead instructor, told Mount Airy Middle School students, “If it runs on electricity, our students can fix it.”
He then introduced his department’s robot to the students. His name is Baxter, and unlike the mechatronics robots, Baxter has a face. Above the arms that perform tasks, Baxter has a computer screen where the head would be on a human. Jones showed the kids how to pull up a menu and use it to program Baxter. But there are also eyes and eyebrows on the screen, and they are quite expressive.
As the kids took turns operating Baxter, Jones warned them to step back when he was ready to go. “It hurts when he slaps you up side of the head,” Jones told the students.
“He won’t complain. He doesn’t need to go to the bathroom. He doesn’t want a smoke. But sometimes, he doesn’t get it right,” Jones explained Baxter’s performance to the kids. And on those occasions when Baxter didn’t get it right, his eyes would turn down into a sad, pouty face.
“Any kind of metal, machinists had something to do with it,” Corey Easter, Computer-Integrated Machining lead instructor, said. “We drive the economy,” and added that Ingersol-Rand’s whole business is machining.
On the other side of the campus in the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology, several area companies involved in advanced manufacturing had set up booths to talk to the students.
Ingersoll-Rand, which has a facility in Mocksville, was one of them. Stacy West said he wanted to show students there were other options for a good career and get them to think about technical careers. He said his company is growing, and they are looking for new hires in machining and maintenance. They are beginning a $30 million project converting to robotics to give them the precision they are looking for, and they will need trained people.
Jake Speaks, spokesperson for Dynamic Machining and Manufacturing in King, said “I want to spread our name to some of these students, both to the college students when they come out of school, and to the younger kids when they come along several years from now.”
Aaron Morse and Michael Cummings, both electronics students who graduate in May, came out of the Shelton-Badgett Center, feeling positive.
“I had some good conversations,” said Morse.
When asked if he had received any job offers, Cummings smiled and said, “Not yet.”
A dozen local students are part of what local officials hope is a big step toward attracting high-tech business to Surry County, and maybe keeping those students at home when they enter the workforce full time. The 12 are serving internships in local businesses in what school officials are calling the Next Generation Career Academy.
The program aims to help students get experience and training for jobs in advance manufacturing and the so-called STEM-related fields. STEM refers to courses of study in science, technology, engineering and math.
In addition to practical work experience, the students are earning a stipend from the program, funded by a grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
The program had its genesis in September, during a discussion by Dr. Travis Reeves, county school superintendent, Dr. David Shockley, president of Surry Community College, and career coach Crystal Folger-Hawks during that month’s Business and Education Economic Partnership meeting.
”Students will complete internships or apprenticeships designed with local business and industry partners that can and will lead to employment,” the school system said in designing its grant application, according to Surry County Schools spokesperson Sonia Dickerson.
“Students will earn industry-related career credentials such as Career Readiness Certification, OSHA Certification, Lean Six Sigma Certification, and certificates from Surry Community College in content areas such as welding, construction, nursing, computer-integrated machining, and electronics,” the grant application stated.
During that September meeting, Folger-Hawks presented a timeline of events that showed the schools establishing business and economic partnerships with agencies in the community; completing an annual analysis of the business and economic development and education partnership; identifying specific industry-recognized certifications that students could earn, such as welding certification, OSHA certification, and career readiness; and by January, identifying specified work-based learning opportunities in industry sites and identifying potential student candidates and conduct intern training.
“The Next Generation Career Academy is right on schedule,” Folger-Hawks said recently in a kickoff meeting with the first group of interns. “Welcome to your first three-day intern training.”
Folger-Hawks, Reeves, and Shockley greeted the 12 students who met the criteria for the internship program. During the training provided by Surry Community College and Surry County Schools, the interns engaged in discussions and activities focused on their work ethic, employer expectations, communication skills, problem-solving, team-building, time management, lean process improvement, and even table manners.
At the end of the week the interns had an opportunity to meet their new employer/mentor at a luncheon before they started the internship on Monday, Jan. 29.
Prior to the students going out to the locations, Folger-Hawks met individually with businesses, toured their facilities, and designed internship opportunities. She matched students to specific careers in the businesses that are participating in the Next Generation Career Academy.
Those businesses include: AES Inc., Chatham Nursing and Rehabilitation, Insteel Industries, Johnson Granite, Leonard Buildings & Truck Accessories, Nester Hosiery, Smith-Rowe, SouthData and Surry Telephone Membership Corporation.
Golden Leaf funds will pay stipends directly to students for their work-based learning internships, as well as funding the costs of textbooks in community college and/or high school courses, and funding transportation costs for students. Several businesses are also paying students for their internship experience.
After one day of his internship program, Noah Reece texted this message to Folger-Hawks, “I’m telling you what I did today I wouldn’t trade for anything else. It was a blast, I love what I did, and hopefully, it will be what I continue to do. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I am really hoping they will take me full time. I have decided just on the first day this is what I want to do. I can’t thank you enough.”
“We got off to a great start with our Next Generation Career Academy extended internship program, and now Surry County Schools is in the position to work with local businesses to develop an apprenticeship program,” said Folger-Hawks.
“It’s exciting to know that we are giving students real-world work skills and they are immediately employable.”
“The resources and assistance provided by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the City of Mount Airy, the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Surry Community College were essential to the success of our start up venture.”Andrew Clabough
Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Inc.
1218 State St.,
Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128
Surry County Economic Development Partnership Inc. 1218 State St., Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128