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Local Companies Supporting New ECC Facility through Naming Opportunities

Keihin Carolina System Technology and Barnhill Contracting Co. have each donated $25,000 to help fund labs in the new Center for Innovation on the Tarboro campus of Edgecombe Community College. Currently under construction, the new facility will focus on advanced manufacturing and is slated to open for classes in 2020.

With possibly millions of manufacturing jobs at stake over the next decade, Edgecombe Community College is banking on its new Center for Innovation to help pave the way for the future of skilled manufacturing workers.

And local businesses Keihin Carolina System Technology and Barnhill Contracting Co. are pitching in.

A study by the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute showed that as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2028, in part because of the lack of skilled workers.

The Center for Innovation, a $6.1 million project under construction on the Tarboro campus and projected to open for classes in 2020, will address the local need for more workers who are proficient in leading-edge manufacturing technologies.

“This is our effort to help train the next generation of employees in the advanced workplace,” says Lynwood Roberson, executive director of the Edgecombe Community College Foundation. “The Center for Innovation will provide our students with the highly competitive skill set needed to work in the new workforce.”

A majority of the construction and equipment funds are coming from the state, county, and grants from various organizations, such as the Golden LEAF Foundation. Area industries also are playing an important role in helping Edgecombe Community College complete the project.

Keihin Carolina System Technology in Tarboro and Barnhill Contracting Co. in Rocky Mount have donated $25,000 each to help fund an electronics lab and a hydraulics and pneumatics lab, respectively. The labs will be named in honor of the two companies.

“These gifts demonstrate the continued support from area industry to the College,” Roberson says.

Donors, both corporate and individual, can help meet area workforce needs by participating in naming opportunities or by making a gift to the College. Contributions will be used to provide equipment, technology, and/or instructional support.

The Center for Innovation will house the College’s industrial-related programs, including Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Systems Technology, and Electrical/Electronics Technology, as well as Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management, says Michael Starling, dean of Business, Industry, and Technologies at ECC.

In both the electronics and hydraulics/pneumatics labs, state-of-the-art equipment will enable students to work in real-world settings to prepare them for employment after graduation.

“The donations are helping us outfit the building to ensure we’re doing things in line with industry standards,” Starling says. “For us, it’s extremely important because the students will see the same type of set-up in our labs that they will see in industries like KCST and Barnhill.”

Equipment like oscilloscopes, multimeters, hydraulics and pneumatic training stations, programmable logic controllers, and mechatronics trainers will allow the students to troubleshoot, build, repair, and operate systems that are found in manufacturing settings across the country, Starling explains.

“A lot of industries are using these same types of systems,” he adds. “We want to be as close to a real world situation as possible so the students can not only work on the systems, but also troubleshoot and perform maintenance on them.”

According to Starling, the new facility will help meet the needs of industries moving into the area.

“The Center for Innovation will be the training site for high school and college students, and education and training will align with current industry standards,” he explains.

“For current manufacturing workers, the Center will take training to the next level in a facility designed to simulate the manufacturing environment with the capacity to upgrade to next-generation equipment.”

To learn more about supporting workforce training by making a gift to the College, please contact Lynwood Roberson, executive director of the ECC Foundation, at or 618-6650.