However, the increase in manufacturing still left a paucity of workers. In aerospace alone, Spirit, HondaJet, Timco and others chose to expand their businesses in North Carolina. “We did a survey across the state that showed there weren’t, and still aren’t, enough people to fill jobs coming in the near future,” says Bolick. “Airbus alone needs 1,500 people for its new facility, and there aren’t that many people in the area! So, we’re trying to get people to move back, offering incentives. But who will take their jobs? We need more than a temporary fix.”

The group turned to future generations. They spoke with college and high school students, asking them, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and found (no surprise) that most had no idea. Of more concern, however, was the fact that students weren’t coming out of school with strong mathematics, engineering or technical knowledge. In an effort to rectify this problem, and raise the next crop of composite manufacturers and aerospace engineers, the group created the SOAR (Summer Orientation to Aerospace/Engineering/Sciences/Technology Retreat) program for the students.

Now, not only can students participate in the government-run community college online program or take classes in the summer, which allows them to graduate with a four-year college degree in two years, but they can participate in the SOAR program as well. This summer, beginning in June, will be the first time the center has catered specifically to the rising generation. “Through a study done by Golden Leaf and the universities, we found that upon entering college, students were not ready to progress to the next level of training due to deficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” explains Bolick. “Through the camp we strive to pique students’ interest in various careers. We believe if they can gain some hands-on experience and speak with career professionals and have fun doing it, they will be more serious about STEM skills needed to get those jobs.”