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Burke County, North Carolina offers manufacturers a labor shed of 650,000 within a 45-minute drive and a robust pipeline of new workers, eliminating worries about labor shortages. Our county’s strong manufacturing heritage has provided employers generations of workers with a solid work ethic and a deep appreciation for quality. In fact, nearly 28 percent of our workforce is already employed in manufacturing. Young people have grown up around manufacturing, see the opportunities, and are eager to acquire the skills today’s manufacturers expect.


Local educators begin preparing our workforce early, with outstanding technical education. The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Agriculture, and Math) Academy provides career-focused Advanced Placement and Honors courses for students.

Starting in 2022, local high school juniors and seniors will be able to take a rigorous, high-level curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math at the new North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), which is opening its second campus in Morganton. The campus, part of the University of North Carolina system, will initially enroll 300 students, with enrollment expected to double the following year. The NCSSM will provide a clear pathway for students interested in manufacturing to continue learning at Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC), also in Morganton. WPCC offers more than 100 degree and certification programs delivering the skills manufacturers need.


Burke County companies enjoy easy access to business and consumer markets in all directions, with great connectivity and central location that puts us within a day’s drive of 160 million consumers. Manufacturers are able to benefit from transportation assets including:

  • Interstate 40, which bisects the county, provides quick commutes for workers, and puts connections to I-77, I-85, I-26, I-81, and I-95 within a three-hour drive.
  • The Norfolk Southern Railroad, which operates a mainline that runs through Burke County and an intermodal facility at the Charlotte International Airport (CLT), just an hour’s drive away.
  • The Charlotte Air Cargo Center at CLT provides runways up to 10,000 feet (3048 meters) long.
  • Five Atlantic ports, all with six hours, allow Burke County manufacturers to reach international markets with ease.

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