Manufacturing in the Region



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economic impact graphicNorth Carolina has long been a manufacturing state built on textiles, tobacco products and furniture production. In the Charlotte region, manufacturing has grown and diversified through the decades. Once considered a leader in textiles, today the Charlotte area has countless firms specializing in advanced manufacturing with precision metrology, optoelectronic and biomedical technology developing alongside traditional manufacturing such as primary and fabricated metals, machinery, chemicals, plastics, electronics, transportation equipment, and food and beverages.

Economic impact
Manufacturing firms in the Charlotte region employ 143,798 people directly. Spending by manufacturing firms and their employees supports an additional 220,459 jobs in the region. Those jobs produce a combined $23.4 billion in estimated wages and benefits. All told, the manufacturing sector has an estimated $40.8 billion impact on the 16-county Charlotte region. About 30.6% of the regional economy is supported in some way by manufacturing firms.

Top 15 Most Common Manufacturing Occupations in Charlotte Region
Occupation Employment Average Annual Wage
Team Assemblers 11,100 $28,616
First-Line Supervisors, Managers of Production Workers 5,570 $56,644
Machinists 4,160 $33,115
Helpers of Production Workers 4,010 $26,141
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers 4,010 $30,619
Packaging & Filling Machine Operators and Tenders 2,560 $27,271
Sewing Machine Operators 2,340 $26,065
Textile Winding, Twisting, and Drawing Out Machine 2,280 $22,919
Upholsterers 2,180 $36,259
Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers 1,900 $36,224
Printing Press Operators 1,790 $33,704
Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters and Operators 1,740 $30,294
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Assemblers 1,570 $29,610
Extruding and Drawing Machine Setters, Operators, 1,560 $32,018
Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, 1,270 $32,033
Source: N.C. Division of Employment Security, Occupation Employment and Wages, 2014
Manufacturing Firms and Employment by Type
Manufacturing type Firms Employees
Apparel Manufacturing 77 4,918
Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing 41 1,128
Chemical Manufacturing 238 6,122
Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing 130 3,217
Electrial Equipment, Appliance, and Component Manufacturing 89 5,800
Fabricated Metal Manufacturing 659 15,264
Food Manufacturing 142 7,965
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing 309 14,581
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing 16 344
Machinery Manufacturing 452 10,501
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 376 8,945
Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing 248 4,859
Paper Product Manufacturing 112 5,945
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 37 491
Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing 188 8,883
Primary Metal Manufacturing 91 3,070
Printing and Related Support Activities 451 3,516
Textile Mills 138 8,645
Textile Product Mills 116 4,371
Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 186 12,931
Wood Product Manufacturing 177 6,155
Manufacturing Headquarters* 41 6,147
Total 4,314 143,798
Source: Charlotte Chamber, 2015. *Corporate offices that do not manufacture goods
Advanced manufacturing

advanced manufacturing photoAdvanced manufacturing companies play a huge role in Charlotte by bolstering the economy with a host of skilled employment opportunities. Some of these advanced manufacturers include Schaeffler Group USA Inc., which employs nearly 2,000 people in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Daimler Trucks North America, which employs 4,900 people in the region. Carrier Corp. manufactures heating and air conditioning equipment at their Charlotte plant.

The Charlotte region boasts many manufacturing companies in the energy industry. Celgard, with over 400 employees in Charlotte, develops and produces specialty microporous membranes used in lithium batteries. Parker Hannifin Corporation has four locations in Charlotte and produces drive and power conversion equipment as well as utility-scale grid tie inverters. Duracell manufactures batteries at its facility in Lancaster, South Carolina. Siemens Energy, with over 1,500 employees, is one of the leading energy manufacturers in the region.

For Carrier, innovation and collaboration is the name of the game. Their facility in Charlotte is a state-of-the-art chiller factory and the birthplace of countless innovations in commercial heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. With approximately 300 employees in the area, Carrier is a leader in the design and manufacturing of products that deliver optimum performance and efficiency.

From air-cooled units to water-cooled chillers, Carrier’s products cover the vast majority of commercial applications, ranging from 10 to 5,500 tons of cooling capacity. These include the AquaEdgeTM 23XRV – the world’s leading efficiency screw chiller, 44 percent better than the industry standard.* Through this range of solutions, Carrier plays an integral role in providing comfort to millions of people across the globe.

“With a large concentration of customers on the East Coast, North Carolina’s road and port systems allow us access to domestic and export customers,” said Chris Opie, director, commercial marketing, Carrier. “The Charlotte plant allows us to reduce lead times and greatly increase the flexibility of our manufacturing operations to better serve our customers,” Opie added.

Carrier cooling and heating systems can be found in hotels, schools, commercial buildings and manufacturing facilities, as well as hospitals, data centers, and other mission-critical applications where the quality of the air, its temperature and reliability are crucial. “Carrier is extremely proud of our Charlotte factory and the innovative products it produces,” said Opie.

*Among electric-driven, water-cooled chillers as mentioned by Integrated Part Load Value conditions based on ASHRAE 90.1 2010 minimum requirement.

Siemens Energy
The Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub is one of the lead facilities in the company’s global manufacturing network for power generating equipment. Opened in 1969, the facility has manufactured and serviced generators and steam turbines for the power generation market for decades. In November 2011, the facility added gas turbine production and service capabilities. The new gas turbine facility was designed based on LEAN manufacturing principles and is certified to U.S. LEED Gold green building standards. With its current workforce of 1,600 and more than 1 million square feet of space under roof, Siemens has become one of the largest manufacturers in Charlotte and also one of the largest among the 250+ Energy companies based in the city. In the last few years, the plant has exported more than $600 million of products, with shipping materials proudly displaying “Made in Charlotte, North Carolina.”

Partnerships with local schools such as Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte continue to help Siemens with workforce development, training, and research. Siemens has invested in the schools and their capabilities, with contributions to UNCC worth $4.3 million to establish an Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), and a donation to CPCC of training software worth $32 million. Siemens also has an apprenticeship program, in partnership with CPCC. These institutions, together with a great mix of customers and suppliers close at hand, make Charlotte a great place to do business.

International Presence

Marbach photoInternational manufacturing firms also have a large footprint in the Charlotte market. Okuma America, a lead manufacturer of computer numerical control (CNC) machine cutting tools and Hitachi Metals, a producer of porcelain electrical supplies are both based in Japan. Bosch Rexroth Corporation, one of the leading specialists in drive, motion and control technologies for advanced manufacturing systems and a member of German company The Bosch Group, is another advanced manufacturer in Charlotte, employing 180 people. German company, Marbach, manufactures steel rule dies at its facility in Charlotte. Keer Group, a Chinese manufacturer, is investing over $200 million to establish a yarn manufacturing facility in Indian Land, South Carolina.

In May of 2012, Marbach, the world’s leading manufacturer of steel rule dies, began production at its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Charlotte. A subsidiary of Karl Marbach GmbH & Co. KG, Marbach is also one of the leading producers of Braille and embossing/stamping components in the industry. The parent company was founded in 1923 and is headquartered in Heilbronn, Germany. Today, Marbach houses operations in 28 countries and employs 1,200 people, including 25 in Charlotte.

The 14,000-square-foot plant is located just north of Charlotte’s Nations Ford area. The decision to open the facility was largely strategic, based on Charlotte’s centralized location and proximity to a number of business partners up and down the East Coast as well as in the Midwest. The company also cited the airport and other local shipping hubs as major factors in the company’s decision to settle here.

Marbach’s employees, many of whom are from Germany, have found the climate to be much to their liking. In fact, many are surprised at the considerable German influence in the area including a German brewery and authentic German cuisine offered at local restaurants.

Marbach has distinguished itself in the industry by instituting what the company referred to as a “vertically integrated supply chain.” The company offers products ranging from tooling solutions for packaging production to high-quality machinery and material for steel rule manufacturing. With the addition of different sectors to the company’s model, Marbach plans on expanding the employee base in Charlotte.

Keer America
When Keer Group, a textile manufacturer based in China, wanted to expand into the North American market, they looked at several options until ultimately choosing Indian Land, South Carolina, located just 20 miles south of Charlotte. Keer America Corporation, a subsidiary of Keer Group, developed plans for a 100-acre campus in Lancaster County on which the headquarters office and manufacturing plant would be located.

Based in Zhejiang, China, the heart of China’s textile industry, Keer America produces cotton using advanced manufacturing equipment and technology, such as air-jet spinning machines. Once the cotton has been processed, it is shipped to China and other parts of the world for distribution. “Being close to the airport and the Charleston port were very important factors in Keer’s decision to move to here. We need to be close the port to export our goods. It is essential that we are close to the Charlotte airport so that our staff and visitors can travel easily to the plant,” said Ke Wang, plant manager at Keer America.
Keer America has completed its initial phase of construction and currently boasts a diverse workforce of approximately 150 employees in its first production line. There are many American production workers working alongside Chinese engineers who help train new employees to use the advanced machinery. Keer is moving forward with phase two of construction, which involves building a second yarn spinning facility and creating more jobs.

Establishing Keer’s headquarters operation in Indian Land is creating a rippling effect throughout the region, helping to revitalize the textile industry that once defined this area. “We decided on the Charlotte region because of its rich history in the textile industry. It has the right people, the right climate, and the right business environment for us,” said Wang.

Download a map of manufacturing companies in the region here.

Charlotte’s Talented Workforce: CPCC

CPCC studentsA talented workforce is essential to today’s manufacturers. “The ability of a region to supply a skilled workforce is a key component of a company’s decision-making process when trying to locate a site for a new manufacturing plant,” said Chris Paynter, Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). The community college, one of the largest in North Carolina, has played a pivotal role in attracting new manufacturers to the Charlotte region by collaborating with industry to create programs of study tuned into the needs of domestic and international manufacturers.

Approximately 800 students are enrolled in one of CPCC’s engineering technology programs, all of which train students in skills necessary for careers in manufacturing. CPCC’s central campus has several dedicated labs with state-of-the-art machinery including a machining lab, 3D printing lab and a brand new Mechatronics lab in partnership with a German manufacturer, Festo. The Festo lab facilitates learning in the field of mechatronics, a cross-sectional discipline that provides specialized training in automation, electrical engineering technology, and mechanical engineering technology. “Our partnership with Festo is helping us close the skills gap that exists in the manufacturing sector by using advanced manufacturing machinery provided by Festo that trains professionals and technical instructors from around the country,” said Paynter.

The Mechatronics Engineering Technology program is only one of many programs that CPCC offers to serve manufacturers in the region. The James Turner Institute of Welding Technology at CPCC’s Harper Campus administers customizable training programs to suit the needs of students and employees. Prospective students can choose to concentrate in welding processes, fabrication and finishing processes, or other processes including forklifts and overhead cranes, manual and automatic plasma cutting and blacksmithing.

Work based learning is a critical piece of solving the skills gap. One of several initiatives designed to close this gap, Apprenticeship 2000, partners with CPCC to provide theoretical and hands on labs for apprentices and cultivates them into highly skilled workers with degrees in Mechatronics. There are also opportunities for industry and apprenticeship certifications. CPCC also provides customized Integrated Systems Technology training programs for businesses and their employees in non-credit training formats. Top industry leaders including Caterpillar, Ford, GM, Motorola Siemens, and Toyota designed the training programs.

While CPCC plays a vital role in preparing its students and employees of manufacturers for jobs in advanced manufacturing, the community college also plays a vital role in recruiting prospective students into manufacturing career pathways. Through a program called STEMmersion available to all high school science, technology, math, and engineering teachers, CPCC provides teachers the opportunity to tour manufacturing facilities of several companies throughout the summer. Teachers who understand the need for specialized technology skills can share these opportunities with students who otherwise may not have known they existed.

“Through community partnerships, we have been able to build a robust program that engages people across the manufacturing spectrum, from high school students interested in the field to managers of plants looking to train their employees in the newest technologies,” said Paynter.

Manufacturing-related Programs at CPCC

  • Computer Integrated Machining Technology
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Mechatronics Engineering Technology
  • Welding Technology
  • Electrical Systems Technology


Manufacturing Related Training Programs in Charlotte Region
Program Completions (2013) Projected growth in
related jobs 2015-2020
Welding Technology / Welder 138 3.00%
Baking and Pastry Arts / Baker / Pastry Chef 137 7.40%
Machine Shop Technology / Assistant 101 2.30%
Data Processing and Data Processing Technology / Technician 44 5.20%
Computer Programming / Programmer, General 26 7.50%
Industrial Electronics Technology / Technician 21 -3.40%
Photographic and Film / Video Technology /Technician and Assistant 16 13.40%
Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management 13 9.80%
Autobody / Collision and Repair Technology /Technician 12 4.30%
Nuclear / Nuclear Power Technology / Technician 5 3.00%
Machine Tool Technology / Machinist 5 -1.30%
Graphic Communications, General 3 -9.50%
Upholstery / Upholsterer 3 -2.50%
Source: Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., 2015
Headquarters Operations

Another key aspect of the manufacturing industry is having a strong base central to manufacturing operations and accessible by various modes of transportation. For many companies, Charlotte is a strategic location for headquarters operations as it not only offers accessibility to several ports and one of the largest domestic airports, but also a high quality of life and low cost of doing business.

The Charlotte region is home to approximately 40 manufacturing headquarters operations. While they don’t actually produce goods at their facilities, they play a crucial role in Charlotte’s economy. Swedish companies Electrolux and Husqvarna have both established headquarters operations in Charlotte that collectively employ over 1,000 people. Two of the nation’s largest manufacturers, included in the Fortune 500, are headquartered in Charlotte – Electrolux, a global appliance manufacturer, and Nucor, ranked 139th on the Fortune 500, manufactures steel.

In 1966, Nucor Corporation, then a conglomerate known as Nuclear Management Company, moved its corporate headquarters to Charlotte because of its proximity to a steel joist and deck manufacturer in Florence, South Carolina. In 1972, the company changed its name to Nucor and focused solely on its most profitable business: steel. Today, Nucor is the largest steel producer in the U.S., with the capability to produce almost 29 million tons of steel annually. A reflection of Charlotte’s commitment to become a national leader in environmental sustainability, Nucor is also North America’s largest recycler. In 2014, Nucor used over 19 million tons of scrap steel as the primary raw material in producing its steel and steel products.

Charlotte, a big city with a small town feel, is a parallel of Nucor, a huge company with a small office environment. Only five layers of management exist between front line workers and the CEO. As a result, Nucor has approximately 100 employees at its corporate headquarters located in South Charlotte who support more than 23,000 employees at over 200 facilities worldwide.




Charlotte Chamber manufacturing council logo

Charlotte Chamber Manufacturers Council
For nearly 20 years, the Charlotte Chamber’s Manufacturers Council has worked to advocate for manufacturers in the public arena, promote economic development initiatives to help manufacturers in the county grow, and become a central source for information about community programs to benefit manufacturers. The Manufacturers Council is open to all Charlotte Chamber members engaged in manufacturing. Council meetings are quarterly and typically consist of an update from the Environmental Committee, a presentation by the company hosting the meeting and a tour of that company’s facility. The council is also active on LinkedIn, where members have the ability to easily share information, connect with other manufacturers and access news, calls to action, data and research that may be of value. For more information on the Manufacturers Council, please visit or contact Ashley Hedrick at 704.378.1345 or
The Charlotte Chamber’s Manufacturers Council would like to thank Jones Lang LaSalle and PNC Bank for being gold level sponsors of this council.