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August 03, 2007

Why car parts in North Carolina?

Vehicle parts manufacturing is a major industry in our state, but it hasn't always been that way. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains what changes have made our state attractive to the industry.

"First of all North Carolina has long been an attractive state for manufacturers of any kind. We have very high labor productivity rates –- that is, what our workers produce compared to what they get paid -- and that's very much valued by manufacturing," explains Dr. Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist. "But I think there are several specific factors that have made us attractive for car parts:

"First of all, much of that industry has migrated south, away from the Midwest, to take advantage of, again, lower labor costs and accessibility to the growing population in the South -- and of course North Carolina is part of the South," he says.

"Secondly, North Carolina is close to several vehicle assembly plants. We don't have any of those yet, but there are vehicle assembly plants in states like South Carolina, Tennessee and even Alabama," Walden adds. "And usually manufacturers want the parts factory to be no more than a day's drive from the assembly factory. So that puts us in a good position there.

"And then lastly," he concludes, "if special training is needed to attract, for example, a parts factory here, our community colleges in North Carolina have an excellent reputation of providing that kind of specialized training."

Posted by deeshore at August 3, 2007 08:00 AM