MIT Technology Review just published a comprehensive overview that delves deep into the challenges and opportunities facing the Greenville region as we work to grow our advanced manufacturing economy. From an economic development perspective, we are seeing larger plants and smaller parking lots as technology takes on a larger role in the manufacturing environment. That is not something that we can, or even should, fight. With that said, we need to ensure that a wider range of our residents have the education, skills and motivation to engage in this growing sector. Per capita income still lags the nation and peer metros. Thanks to efforts like Greenville Works and Greenville Tech's Center for Manufacturing Innovation, we are making small steps to creating a more prosperous community for all. However, we need to accelerate that work.
One of the most frequently cited challenges for growing this sector is the lack of interest in manufacturing occupations. Whether from a family member’s actual experience in a manufacturing environment or from general perceptions about the field, many folks discount manufacturing early in their career journey. From some reports, the second least chosen occupation by public school students is manufacturing. Only finance is lower in terms of career popularity. There is a tremendous need for positive PR about manufacturing.
Greenville Tech’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) is, in a sense, an effort in both training and in positive PR and marketing for manufacturing occupations. With its state-of the-art 5-axis and other machinery, its focus on research and economic development, CMI will be a draw for students exploring career options.
The Greenville Chamber was pleased to hold its annual BBQ Bash, a celebration of Manufacturing, at CMI earlier this month. More than 400 manufacturers and businesses enjoyed some time exploring the brand-new facility while enjoying some good food and music. To see a few pictures of the event and this showcase facility, click here.
Stay tuned for updates about CMI. David Clayton, Executive Director of CMI, will be posting soon.