|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Economic Adjustment Assistance||1||$2,017,501|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||1||$499,826|
Wilson, North Carolina, has faced significant challenges in recent years. Located in the heart of eastern North Carolina, Wilson experienced a trend of double digit unemployment, an increase in the number of people living below the poverty level, and annual wage disparity falling well below state and national averages. According to the North Carolina Division of Employment Security (NCDES), the broader Upper Coastal Plain region experienced a reduction of 17,167 jobs in all industries from 2000 until 2013, with considerable losses occurring in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
Despite these job losses, a 2013 survey of local industry found that approximately 799 jobs would be available between 2014 and 2016. Yet, even with a large contingency of unemployed workers, companies in the region were facing difficulty finding workforce with the necessary skill sets to fill vacant positions. To address demand for qualified workers and reduce the regional unemployment rate, Wilson Community College worked closely with regional employers to identify the specific needs that more often were not being met. From these needs – which included industrial maintenance, engineering, welding, HVAC, electrical fields, and automotive technology – Wilson Community College developed the concept for the Advanced Automotive Technology and Applied Engineering Technology program that would be help train the local workforce in these critical skill areas.
In 2015, EDA awarded $1 million to Wilson Community College to renovate and customize two buildings on the Wilson Community College Lee Campus for workforce training in advanced transportation and industrial maintenance and operations. The region’s industry and facilities have suffered from a shortage of skilled workers in these fields. This project will provide the specialized training and retraining of local workers to address the gap, and is anticipated to lead to the creation of 285 jobs in the long term. The jobs were committed from a variety of firms, including Bridgestone Tire, Construct, Inc., Evans MacTavish Agricraft, Inc., and Hubert Vester Auto Group.