Despite remarkable growth of developing economies in China, Brazil and India, the United States has seen more foreign investment than any country in the world over the last five years, according to the United Nations.
IBM’s annual report on international investment showed that South Carolina was the top state in the US for attracting jobs from foreign investors in three of the last four years. Looking closer to home, Greenville County has led the state in attracting new jobs.
During the 2010 to 2014 time period, new and expanding businesses committed 10,577 new jobs to Greenville County, nearly the same as Richland and Charleston Counties combined. The implication for Greenville County is that our workforce development and training demands, to meet the needs of growing industry, are as acute as any place in the world.
Driving south on I-85 into Greenville, just past the TD Bank and Hubbell offices on your left, you may have noticed behind the trees a large building under construction. This structure, the Greenville Technical College Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), represents a $25 million investment in the future of Greenville’s manufacturing economy and a commitment to develop future generations of advanced manufacturing professionals.
At just more than 100,000 square feet, this structure is not an office building like its neighbors to the north, but more closely akin to its neighbor to the south, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), and its neighbor across Millennium Drive, the Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School.
The Greenville Technical College Center for Manufacturing Innovation is a response to the needs of area employers, eager to fill well-paying jobs in plant automation, robotics, machine tool technology and engineering technology. The state-of-the-art facility will double the capacity of Greenville Technical College to train students and working professionals in these engaging careers.
In addition, through a partnership with Clemson University, CMI will be a unique environment that integrates hands-on education and industry-led research into the curricula of both the technical college and university, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The CMI is more than a training center though. The building, with its inviting architecture, is designed to showcase the future of careers in manufacturing to prospective students, teachers, parents and the entire community.
The staff and facility itself will engage visitors by demonstrating the technology, either from the bridge suspended over the high-bay work area, up close on the shop floor, or in the prototyping and metrology labs. The entire experience is intended to change minds about careers in manufacturing, from the vision of smoke-filled, industrial-age factories to the reality of clean, technologically advanced manufacturing facilities.
Furthermore, the educational programs offered at CMI represent an evolution in higher education. Offering classes in a modular format, CMI will allow students more flexibility in beginning and ending courses, scheduling lab times, working on more involved creative-inquiry projects, and offering a greater variety of industry projects and work experiences.
These changes to the core manufacturing curriculum are further enhanced with an Advanced Manufacturing Certificate, offerings in Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing and Prototyping), and partnerships with leading equipment manufacturers to offer continuing education programs in robotics, metrology, machining and other topics. CMI will also be home to Greenville Technical College’s renowned Six Sigma, quality management and project management programs for working professionals.
The faculty and staff of Greenville Technical College and Clemson University have worked diligently over the last year to bring the CMI vision to a reality. CMI will be opened to students in August, offering new and expanded programs.
Procurement of equipment has begun, and with the help of generous industry and individual donors, the CMI will showcase a wide array of advanced manufacturing and engineering technology. A comprehensive marketing effort is underway, to raise awareness in the community about the opportunities offered by CMI and careers in advanced manufacturing with companies like GE, Bosch Rexroth, BMW, Michelin, and other global brands.
Early in the fall, a series of events will be held to celebrate the grand opening of CMI. These events, presenting the facility and programs to be offered at CMI, will be open to parents and students, the manufacturing community, economic and workforce development professionals and the general public.
Lastly, the CMI will be open to executives considering Greenville for their next manufacturing expansion, assuring them that their workforce and training needs will be met in the future, and continuing the success of industrial recruitment and economic growth in the region.
Late last year, David Clayton began work as the director of the Center for Manufacturing Innovation. The former research director of the South Carolina Department of Commerce is experienced in economic and workforce development and brings leadership and manufacturing experience in the U.S. and Europe with companies including Westinghouse Electric, General Electric, and PTV Loxane. Clayton earned a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in mechanical engineering and an International MBA from the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business. In addition, he completed MBA coursework at the European School of Management in Paris and coursework in artificial intelligence and economics at the Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany.