NC Aerospace Wants to Spread Word on Aviation-Related Jobs
November 5, 2014
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  • GREENSBORO — In the Triad’s aerospace world, Honda Aircraft and Haeco, formerly TIMCO, grab the spotlight. The two companies employ close to 3,000 workers at Piedmont Triad International Airport alone.

    But many smaller companies employ another 15,000 workers in aviation-related jobs in this region, and opportunity for business and workers is growing here and across the state, according to NC Aerospace, a new nonprofit business organization based in Greensboro.

    NC Aerospace aims to become a statewide advocate and economic-development group connecting aerospace companies, educators and potential employees, said Penny Whiteheart, the organization’s managing director.

    Next week, NC Aerospace, will present the first of two programs outlining the markets and opportunities for companies that may not know that their work and products could make them ideal suppliers for the aviation industry.

    “Aerospace Markets and Opportunities for N.C. Manufacturers” is designed to attract companies from a wide variety of specialties that include such trades as precision machining, bonding, welding and assembly, fabrics and semiconductors.

    “Aviation and aerospace is definitely important in Greensboro, and there are thousands of people at PTI working in aerospace,” Whiteheart said.

    “But they are also spread out across our region and our state. And aviation and aerospace is really a growth opportunity for the manufacturing sector in North Carolina,” she said.

    Whiteheart said the Triad is home to many companies that may seem unlikely suppliers to the aviation industry, including Precision Fabrics, Bright Plastics and RF Micro Devices.

    The program, scheduled for Nov. 12, will provide potential suppliers with a variety of ideas and information to help them get into the business.

    Topics will include:

    ▪ An overview of the aviation-supplier market.
    ▪ The level of quality and industry certifications that may be required in order to be competitive.
    ▪ How to export products.
    ▪ A case study of how a regional manufacturer got involved with aerospace and how it grew in that sector.

    NC Aerospace was formed as part of the Piedmont Triad Partnership economic development group, but it will likely become independent in 2015, supported by memberships, contributions and grants, among other sources of funding, Whiteheart said.

    Members of the organization’s 11-member board include James T. Fain III, the interim executive director of the Center for International Understanding and a former N.C. commerce secretary; Dr. Terri Helmlinger-Ratcliff, the executive director of the Industrial Extension Service at N.C. State; and Lou Ann McCorquodale, the vice president of operations at Purolator Advanced Filtration.

    In 2015, NC Aerospace plans to create a statewide strategy that will take a look at the growth prospects for aerospace-related jobs across the state. Whiteheart said the group likely will present its programs in the eastern part of the state as well.

    “We should work to make this a statewide effort and statewide organization,” she said.