NCEast and UNC Kenan to Analyze Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Cluster

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NCEast Alliance, a regional economic development agency serving eastern North Carolina, and the UNC Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s NCGrowth have joined forces to conduct an analysis of the motor vehicle assembly and parts manufacturing cluster in 35 counties stretching from Durham to the coast.

NCEast Alliance, a regional economic development agency serving eastern North Carolina, and the UNC Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s NCGrowth have joined forces to conduct an analysis of the motor vehicle assembly and parts manufacturing cluster in 35 counties stretching from Durham to the coast. The NCEast Alliance region is characterized by the presence of several vehicle assembly plants such as NACCO Materials Handling Group and KNC/ Crown Equipment (lift trucks), VT Hackney (beverage trucks) and LS Tractor (farm equipment assembly). Several automotive suppliers, particularly Japanese companies, like Keihin, ASMO, Uchiyama and Bridgestone, are direct suppliers to North American automotive assembly plants.  Other related production facilities include the Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant (diesel engines).  All together, cluster companies employ several thousand workers with the potential for significant job growth.

Eastern North Carolina also has many assets to support cluster growth – the East Carolina University (ECU) College of Engineering and Technology in Greenville, the 1200 acre CSX Select Kingsboro MegaSite in Edgecombe County (located on freeway US 64 between Tarboro and Rocky Mount), and the NC Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) situated north of Rocky Mount and east of Roanoke Rapids. NCCAR offers an independent test track and testing/maintenance facilities (work bays) available for rent or lease.

The cluster analysis project will include:

  • Identification and definition of the regional Motor Vehicle Assembly and Parts Manufacturing Cluster;
  • Construction of a Value Chain Diagram that links existing local companies involved in the same supply chain.  This will also include some financial data such as average costs of various parts from suppliers, estimated ‘middle man’ costs, etc.;
  • Analysis of economic data associated with the motor vehicle assembly and parts manufacture cluster to determine employment trends, growth trends and relative concentration of the linked industries;
  • Gap Analysis of the Motor Vehicle Assembly and Parts Manufacture industries to determine where NC East Alliance should focus their attention to further develop or strengthen the cluster.  This section will determine what segments of the cluster are missing from the local region; and if and how these gaps should be addressed (recruiting, expansion, startup firm, etc.)

 

NCGrowth and Alliance staff with lead the project with support from others.  The expert team includes members such as Brent Lane, director of the Center for Competitive Economies at the Kenan Institute, Dr. Mark Angolia of ECU’s Technology Systems Department (a former automotive components manufacturing manager and logistics/supply chain expert), and Fumihiro Kawasaki, an MBA Candidate and Economic Development Analyst with NCGrowth. Mr. Kawasaki is an employee of Mizuho Bank of Tokyo, Japan, that has been involved in investment banking.  Mizuho Bank one of Japan’s largest banks with offices in every prefecture as well as several across the globe.

“We are excited about this new project with NC East because it combines the three components of the Kenan Institute’s mission: economic development, entrepreneurship, and global competitiveness.” –Mark Little, Interim Executive Director, Kenan Institute.

The Alliance will engage local economic developers and cluster companies in the process to insure the accuracy of the data.  The first phase of the project should be complete by May 2015.  Sometime after that, the region will convene a group of individuals to guide the development of strategies and actions to grow the cluster.

“It is extremely important that we gain a better understanding of this important economic cluster,’ said John D. Chaffee, President/CEO of the NCEast Alliance.  “We believe this will lead to important findings that will improve our chances of strengthening the motor vehicle assembly and parts manufacturing cluster in eastern North Carolina,” continued Chaffee.

The NCEast Alliance is a regional, public/private, not-for-profit, economic development corporation serving approximately 1.2 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas in eastern North Carolina from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. The Alliance provides community capacity building and assists companies with site location and expansion evaluations. For more information on the NCEast Alliance, visit us at www.nceast.org or visit one of our workforce development sites (NCEast WorkReady Communities at www.ncworkready.org or STEM East at www.stemeast.org).