Burke County, located in the Western Piedmont region of North Carolina, is a thriving community with an outstanding quality of life and a strong manufacturing base. It is home to many globally competitive companies including 10 foreign-owned manufacturers.
Located one hour from Charlotte and four hours from Atlanta, Burke County offers ease to markets. It has access to several major interstates including I-77, I-85 and I-40, which crosses Burke County for more than 30 miles.
Home to 90,000 people, nearly 30% of the county’s workforce is employed in the manufacturing sector. Burke Development, the economic development entity, works closely with statewide organizations, local governments and utility providers to create a supportive environment for growing local businesses and companies interested in expanding in the area.
A vibrant and diverse manufacturing base
The economy has long been sustained by the production of furniture and textiles, and these sectors remain strong. The region was named in 2015 as a “top 10 hub for textile production.” This is attributed to the Manufacturing Solutions Center, an innovative research and development facility, and the Carolina Textile District, a supply chain network that coordinates modern demand.
Local furniture companies continue to grow as existing firms become more modernized and find a niche in the marketplace. Several locations in recent years by industry leaders such as Geiger Herman Miller and Ekornes have added new types of furniture manufacturing to the traditional case goods and upholstery base.
Burke County is also home to numerous tier 2 and tier 3 automotive and aerospace suppliers. A unique metalworking cluster features five of the best tool and dye companies in the U.S. including Toner Machining Technologies, James Tool and Master Workholding.
A commitment to workforce development
Although there are nearly 215,000 available workers in a 30-mile radius, leaders with the local school system and community college are actively engaged in supporting existing companies in developing a future pipeline of manufacturing workers.
In coordination with educators and multiple local employers, Burke Development is creating a five-year plan to raise the creative capacity of graduating high school and college students. These students will have the ability and the skills needed to enter the high tech workplace that awaits them. They will be prepared to be life-long learners and to be adaptable in an increasingly complex environment.
It was announced in 2016 that the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will construct a western campus in Burke County. This will bring a new and talented group of young people to the area when the school opens in 2020. This addition will further enhance the community’s efforts in developing a more diverse and well trained workforce.
A beautiful place to call home
Downtown areas in Burke County feature breweries, live music, art galleries and locally sourced southern cuisine. Weekends can be spent taking a walk along the Catawba River Greenway or visiting one of the county’s several wineries.
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Burke County has two state parks that offer canoeing, camping and wilderness activities. More adventurous outdoor enthusiasts can visit Pisgah National Forest or the Linville Gorge for hiking, kayaking and rock climbing.
With so much to offer it is easy to see why Burke County continues to grow and add to its long history of being a hub for manufacturing and a beautiful place to call home.