It’s common these days to hear about economically devastated cities or regions still searching for faint glimmers of hope. But that’s not necessarily the case in Mount Airy, NC, a small town dominated by textile mills and tobacco fields and still well known as the inspiration for Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show.
To be sure, Mount Airy is struggling after huge employment losses when textile and apparel plants closed. But the area’s short-term retraining provider, Surry Community College, has been creative in helping getting local residents re-employed.
One of the recent bright spots: Surry CC’s viticulture and enology program. That’s right — the community college is helping displaced manufacturing workers transition into North Carolina’s burgeoning winemaking industry.
USA Today does a nice job outlining the issues in this story.
North Carolina’s entrepreneurs have been planting vineyards to replace tobacco fields and starting wineries to draw tourists. Across the state, the acreage set aside for vineyards has more than doubled since 2000. North Carolina is now No. 10 nationwide in growing grapes and No. 7 in making wine.
Surry Community College is turning out graduates who can grow grapes, apply pesticides, make wine and market vintages. The college has a 4-acre vineyard and sells wines under its Surry Cellars label. Graduates of its viticulture and enology program can find work in vineyards for up to $17 an hour and as winemakers for up to $70,000 a year.
What other fields are showing promise in the region and might be good targets for retraining? Here’s a table of high-growth industries projected out to 2011 put together in EMSI’s labor market research tool. We filtered out industries that pay less than $25,000 per year.
And using EMSI’s regionalized staffing patterns, here are the fastest-changing occupations for the above industries.
If you’re interested in seeing this data for your region, please contact Josh Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org).