Manufacturing retains big role in N.C.

Manufacturing in North Carolina might seem a has-been sector from a bygone time.

But it's still an important one for the state's economy, according to a preliminary report to be released today by the N.C. Chamber.

Without the sector, North Carolina's economy would be a third smaller, the report said. Total employment and wages also would be less.

The N.C. Chamber will present the findings and the results of a poll at a manufacturing summit today in Greensboro.

“Ultimately, this project is about jobs – growth in quality jobs,” Lew Ebert, president of the state's business lobby said in a statement.

“It's about shedding light on the manufacturing sector and its importance to our state's economy and future.”

Here are some of the findings:

On employment: North Carolina is the seventh-largest manufacturing state in the nation. The industry accounts for 29 percent of total employment, or 1.2 million jobs, in North Carolina, according to the report.

The author, Graham Toft of GrowthEconomics, reaches that figure on the assumption that every factory job indirectly creates 1.7 more jobs at suppliers, retailers and in other industries.

On the economy: Manufacturers, their suppliers and related businesses account for $140.6 billion in economic activity. Without manufacturing, the state's gross domestic product – the measure of an economy's size – would be $233.9 billion.

The Chamber wants policymakers to take note.

The lobby wants tax policy changes to benefit manufacturers, and it wants lawmakers to understand the industry importance in the state.

According to the poll Ebert will release, manufacturers say property taxes on business machinery and taxes on motor fuels are hindering job growth.

“A slowing economy coupled with serious concern on the part of the customers about whether our state is on the right track certainly increases the pressure on our Chamber to help deliver some relief to North Carolina manufacturers who are clearly feeling the pinch,” Ebert said in a statement.