Manufacturing Toolkit

NC Manufacturing Community Toolkit

In the face of evolving technologies and a globally competitive marketplace, the manufacturing workforce requires new and higher skill levels than in years past.  At the same time, rising wage levels and transportation costs, as well as other factors, are forcing companies to reexamine where they produce. For the past year, IEI has helped communities like yours realize the economic benefits of new and advanced manufacturing, and what kinds of skills are necessary for working in this sector. Here you will find our manufacturing toolkit, a variety of resources to help your community take advantage of the opportunities that advanced manufacturing presents.


See how communities across North Carolina have taken advanced manufacturing to the next level in our 2013 Emerging Issues Forum @Manufacturing Works Post-Forum report here. This report highlights:

  • Statewide efforts to better align manufacturing businesses with North Carolina’s educational systems.
  • Ways our state is targeting efforts to rebrand manufacturing as a viable career option and strengthen community networks.
  • How North Carolina communities are poised to take advantage of the opportunities modern manufacturing has to offer.

Additional Resources

Looking for more specifics? Here are additional, more in-depth resources from this work on how you can take action in your community.


Community Stories

Major manufacturing companies historically sought out cheap labor in places with enough infrastructure capacity to produce their products at the lowest cost. As the global economy offered increased national options, the U.S. saw manufacturing jobs disappear in textiles, agriculture and furniture. Some of those jobs are returning to the U.S. as today’s manufacturing changes. See how communities across our state are taking advantage of the opportunities new manufacturing brings.

Advancing Manufacturing Efficiencies

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Over the last two decades, North Carolina has seen a major decline in its manufacturing base, shedding more than several hundred thousand jobs. Forward-looking communities that lost manufacturing jobs in the past are creating a reserve of highly skilled employees and leaner practices in order to compete in today’s manufacturing environment.

Bringing Manufacturing Jobs Back 

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Issues of quality, increased cost and economic uncertainty from a rapidly changing global economy have led more companies to return overseas production back to their communities, helping to spur high quality, well-paying jobs. This concept, known as reshoring, is taking hold in all sectors of North Carolina manufacturing. But to keep these jobs, businesses–along with local, county and statewide partners–must collaborate in support of manufacturing growth.

Training For New Manufacturing Careers

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There are millions of unemployed people. A large number of those are undereducated and, as a result, unqualified for today’s high-tech manufacturing jobs. North Carolina’s K-12 schools and community colleges are closing the skills gap by training youth for highly skilled, good-paying jobs in manufacturing after graduation. At the same time, manufacturers are working to shed the negative stigma of yesterday’s manufacturing to attract the next generation of employees.

Re-imagining Traditional Manufacturing

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The next industrial revolution is taking place in someone’s garage. Known as the “Maker Movement,” this more individualized, small-scale approach to manufacturing is helping spur locally networked communities. Today, North Carolina’s community of designers and makers are utilizing next generation digital fabrication tools to make it easier and less costly to manufacture a product.


What can you do?

Inspired by this work? There is still much you can do to take action in your community. Here are a few examples that IEI has helped support:

  • Rebranding manufacturing as a career. Click here to learn more about this action and how you can take part.
  • Student apprenticeships with manufacturers. Click here to learn more about this action and how you can take part.
  • Establishing local manufacturing networks. Click here to learn more about this action and how you can take part.


These are just a few of the many ideas and actions that have been submitted since the 2013 Emerging Issues Forum, @Manufacturing Works. Visit the Emerging Issues Commons to see more ideas and ways you can take advantage of the opportunities new manufacturing presents in your community.

Learn more!

Manufacturing has changed dramatically in recent years. Higher-paying, more skilled jobs can transform our economy, and these industry changes are creating major multiplier effects within communities. North Carolina is uniquely positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. Click on the infographic below to learn more about manufacturing in our state.

@Manufacturing Works Research

In addition to this infographic, check out @Manufacturing Works, our research paper on new and advanced manufacturing in North Carolina.