Charlotte has a long history of being a leader in the manufacturing industry dating back to before the Civil War. Mostly known for the production of furniture, textiles, and tobacco products in the past, the manufacturing industry in Charlotte has grown significantly in the last 40 years, and area companies now produce a diverse range of products such as electronics, appliances, fabricated metal, heavy machinery, chemicals, plastics, and computer components. Today, the manufacturing sector is one of the largest employers in the Charlotte area, and continues to grow year after year as more manufacturing firms – large and small – move some or all of their operations to the city.
Charlotte Manufacturing at a Glance
Diversity seems to be the name of the game when it comes to Charlotte area manufacturing. Fabricated metal and steel manufacturing is one of the leaders in the Charlotte area, with over 600 firms employing around 16,000 workers; Nucor, a Fortune 500 company and the largest steel producer in the U.S., has had its corporate headquarters in the Queen City since 1966. A strong player in this sector since before the War Between the States, the textile industry continues to be among the area’s leaders in manufacturing, with over 250 firms employing 13,000-plus workers. The rapidly growing computer components, appliance, and electronic equipment segment accounts for over 200 firms employing just less than 10,000 people; Swedish appliance giant Electrolux has its U.S. base of operations in Charlotte.
Transportation equipment manufacturing is well represented, with almost 200 companies employing over 13,000 workers; British manufacturer Daimler is the leader in this category, with their Daimler Trucks North America division accounting for more than 6,000 area jobs.
Another industry Charlotte has been particularly known for through the decades is furniture manufacturing, and the city continues to be among the nation’s leaders here, with over 300 companies employing 15,000 area workers. Other leaders in the manufacturing sector include chemical (6,200 jobs), food (8,000 jobs), plastics and rubber (8,900 jobs), and paper products (6,000 jobs).
The Impact of Manufacturing on Charlotte’s Economy
Manufacturing is a major component of the Charlotte area’s rapidly growing economy. The industry directly employs almost 150,000 workers, and accounts for an estimated $24 billion in wages and benefits annually. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce estimates that spending by manufacturing companies and workers supports several thousand other area companies which employ around 220,000 workers. Over 30% of the area’s economy is supported by the manufacturing sector, which accounts for an estimated $41 billion in total economic impact. And these numbers are set to grow in the years to come as Charlotte’s manufacturing sector expands into the area of advanced manufacturing, which typically offers higher paying jobs to its skilled labor force and is poised for rapid expansion in the decades to come.
Along with transportation, finance, healthcare, and energy, manufacturing is a key component of Charlotte’s growing economy, and crucial for the continuing economic health and wellbeing of the area. With over 4,000 large, medium, and small companies already in the area, and a huge pool of local talent to draw from, Charlotte continues to attract manufacturing companies from around the nation and the world, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.