Triangle Chatter

The Research Triangle's Manufacturing Economy Ain't What It Used To Be!

Charles HayesTrue or False: Since 1990, in the Research Triangle Region, total manufacturing jobs have declined dramatically.

The answer is “False.”  In fact, the number today is roughly equal to that of two decades ago.

It’s easy to see why many people would assume manufacturing jobs have disappeared.  Our region -- based on its name alone -- is renowned for R&D, life sciences and I/T.  Companies like Red Hat, Syngenta and Novozymes often overshadow those such as GKN, Caterpillar, Meridian Zero, and Revlon. It’s also worth remembering that many of our top tech and biotech names are also manufacturers: Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Cisco come to mind.

Some arrived in one part of our region to conduct research and later found their way to a manufacturing site somewhere nearby. Solar technology pioneer Semprius is an example of that. Earlier this year, the fast-growing Durham-based company opened its production facility in Henderson. 

Though we’re not exactly known as a manufacturing region, businesses here can do it all – capitalizing on a fertile intellectual infrastructure while also tapping into a rich manufacturing heritage that reaches back generations.

How is the Research Triangle Region able to be both a leading technology and a leading manufacturing region?

In short, we’ve got human capital that can fuel the success of just about any company, industry or operation. The region’s diverse and growing workforce enables just about any company to flourish. But that’s not the full story. Behind the region’s well-prepared workers are innovation-minded educational and training programs that hone high-precision skills and shape business-savvy minds. Our universities produce engineers, scientists and analysts while our community colleges turn out graduates equipped with the technical know-how today’s manufacturers demand.

Our region’s manufacturing economy is alive and well.   It’s filled with exciting, sustainable career opportunities for skilled workers who are committed to keeping up with the latest tools, techniques and technologies.

It is true that the Research Triangle Region’s manufacturing economy ain’t what it used to be.

It’s far better!

Author: Charles A. Hayes, CEcD, President & CEO, Research Triangle Region


  1. Stephen Barrington's avatar
    Stephen Barrington
    | Permalink
    In the 13-county RTRP region, the following manufacturing industries are expected to collectively grow from 21,995 employees in 2012 to 26,650 employees in 2017, a net gain of 4,655 manufacturing employees. It's also no secret that manufacturing wages and salaries are towards the top of all industries. The 2012 total average earnings per the manufacturing industries below is $115,046. Not looking bad.

    Growth Areas:
    - Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing
    - Instruments and Related Products Manufacturing for Measuring, Displaying, and Controlling Industrial Process Variables
    - Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing
    - Mattress Manufacturing
    - Biological Product (except Diagnostic) Manufacturing
    - Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing
    - All Other Cut and Sew Apparel Manufacturing
    - Plate Work Manufacturing
    - Digital Printing
    - Relay and Industrial Control Manufacturing
    - Industrial Valve Manufacturing
    - Other Concrete Product Manufacturing
    - Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing
    - Concrete Block and Brick Manufacturing
    - All Other Industrial Machinery Manufacturing
    - All Other Basic Organic Chemical Manufacturing
    - Electromedical and Electrotherapeutic Apparatus Manufacturing
    - Custom Architectural Woodwork and Millwork Manufacturing
    - Motor Vehicle Transmission and Power Train Parts Manufacturing

    Source: EMSI 2012.3

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