Oct. 05–Oct. 5 is National Manufacturing Day, but Gaston County spent the whole first week of the month toasting local manufacturers.
“Everything at some point has got to be made somewhere, and we do a very good job of making a variety of things, from specialty yarn to truck parts to specialty chemicals to injection molding of items,” said Steve Nye with the Gaston County Economic Development Commission. “… If you look at what manufacturing provides a community, the biggest thing that it provides is quality job opportunities.”
Gaston County Manufacturing Week events capped Friday with a bus tour of manufacturing projects in Bessemer City, where earlier this year Belgium-based Dhollandia broke ground on a major North American expansion. Other events included a tour of McAdenville-based Pharr Fibers and Yarns, the “Women Who Rock” luncheon and a roundtable at Gaston College on the local impact of the manufacturing industry.
Gaston is home to several large manufacturers and is in the process of expanding its capability to house more factories with plans to establish a new business park. The two big parks already here, Gaston Technology Park in Gastonia and SouthRidge in Bessemer City, help employ more than 1,500 people.
Nye says that between 20,000-22,000 people are employed in the manufacturing industry in Gaston.
Industry here has evolved from Gaston’s textile-centric prime last century.
Joe Rankin, a McAdenville Town Council member, has worked at Pharr for 34 years, and led Manufacturing Week participants on a tour of one of the company’s manufacturing facilities Thursday.
“Born and raised here, I see all the manufacturing in the area is a lot more diversified now,” Rankin said. “It’s not all mills. It used to be cotton and yarn spinners and T-shirt knitters.”
People on his tour saw a different kind of operation, watching the process of yarn being turned into various products with the help of advanced equipment.
“A lot of people have an idea of a textile mill where you walk in and it’s dark and it’s dirty and there’s fiber from the ceiling and you’ve got lint all over your clothes,” Rankin said. “That’s just not the case. You’ve got to invest in new technology and you’ve got to have good, clean workplaces, and that leads to good, quality product.”
You can reach Dashiell Coleman at 704-869-1819 or on Twitter @DashiellColeman
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