Students Take “Made in Henderson County” Tours on Manufacturing Day

Students Mickelene Hoggard and Meghan Grandal work to identify a specimen from NIST’s cone snail group.
Alex Holt/NIST

An annual collaboration of local schools’ Career & Technical Education programs and workforce development initiatives, the 2019 Made in Henderson County Tours in early October introduced more than 375 middle and high school students to successful manufacturing careers in their own backyard.

Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) has partnered with the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development (HCPED) since 2012 to showcase manufacturing careers to local students through Made in Henderson County tours and events. The initiative has grown to include annual job fairs that positively impact current employer needs by connecting them directly with local, career-ready students who are interested in manufacturing, as well as a Manufacturing Apprenticeship launched in Spring 2019 in partnership with Blue Ridge Community College.

This year’s Made in Henderson County Tours took place on Manufacturing Day for the second year in a row. Students visited 16 local companies, where they got a first-hand look at advanced manufacturing processes and materials including technical ceramics, polymers, die-casting and machining, packaging, sheet metal fabrication, custom cabinetry, molding, and more.

Participating companies included Mountain Showcase, Elkamet, Wilsonart, Prince Manufacturing, Byers Precision Fabricators, Norafin, RAUMEDIC, Haynes Wire Company, Printpack, WestRock, GF Linamar, Selee Corporation, BorgWarner, Continental Automotive Systems, Meritor, and Microtech Knives.

Students learned that manufacturing jobs have evolved from production to high-tech involving engineering, logistics, finances, human resources, and more – and the opportunities in their hometown are plentiful and rewarding. With 130 manufacturers in Henderson County, 15% of the county’s workforce are represented by the 5,700 people working these manufacturing jobs, with average wages in excess of $53,000/year.

“Manufacturing offers so many career paths today. The sooner we expose kids to the opportunities available right here in Henderson County, the sooner they can start planning for their future and taking advantage of those opportunities,” said Steve Gwaltney, HCPED Chair.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Made in Henderson Program to offer tours for our middle and high school students,” said Dr. Wendy Frye, HCPS Director of High Schools. “This provides our students the opportunity to learn about the amazing manufacturing careers available in Henderson County with competitive salaries and benefits, often with tuition reimbursement options. Our goal is to show our students firsthand what awaits them upon graduation.”

“Made in Henderson County” is a coordinated effort established to enhance the connection between manufacturing businesses and Henderson County Public Schools, while telling the story of manufacturing, the products that are made here, and the people who make them. The effort to enhance connectivity between manufacturing businesses and the school system is focused on raising the visibility of manufacturing as a viable career path to ensure that Henderson County students have diverse employment opportunities in the community, and manufacturing businesses have access to skilled, local talent. Visit www.madeinhendersoncounty.com for more information.

Prepared by Molly McGowan-Gorsuch, HCPS.