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NC Commerce Secretary visits Port City businesses

Updated: Feb. 19, 2020 at 3:51 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and city council members hosted NC Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland and state legislators Wednesday to visit two local manufacturers.

Leaders had the opportunity to tour the Quality Chemical Laboratories, a pharmaceutical testing company. They then visited Queensboro, a local apparel manufacturer.

During the tours, leaders had the opportunity to learn more about local manufacturing businesses and what actions local and state governments can do to help them grow.

“It’s an opportunity to have Secretary Copeland to come down here to take a look at several different businesses today and I know job placement and job development is extremely important to him and to the governor and so to see what they could do at the state level to help a lot of the manufacturers and businesses here in the area be able to grow,” said Saffo.

Both Saffo and Copeland acknowledge one issue locally and statewide is the need for more workers.

"We have a 3.5 percent unemployment rate which is literally almost full employment. Some of the technical skills that a lot of these companies are looking for are in demand and we’re going to see what we can do as a local government here to work with our state government officials to get monies and help that job development take place,” Saffo said.

Secretary Copeland talked about the importance of continuing to upskill and retrain employees.

“I think one of the great things I’m seeing here in Wilmington, in particular, is how you have utilized your university and community college system here to continue to upskill your workforce and bring new employees into the network of companies whether it’s textiles or life sciences,” Copeland said.

Saffo echoed the importance of doing so, saying while Quality Chemical Laboratories and Queensboro are very different companies, they are looking for the same thing.

“There’s a demand for more workers and there’s a demand for more specialized employment and that’s something we have to work with our community college, our university, with employers here in the area to see what those specific needs are,” Saffo said.

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