The Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce and Pulaski County Public Schools Career and Technical Education recently held a Manufacturing Expo hosted at New River Community College to introduce middle school students to careers in advanced manufacturing.

Around 300 hundred middle school students from Pulaski Middle School and Dublin Middle School interacted with local manufacturing companies and organizations at booths set up to provide students with hands-on interactive elements.

“The participating manufacturers really went all out to engage the students," said Peggy White, executive director of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. "Not only were they exposed to all the diverse products produced right here in Pulaski County but they were challenged with hands-on activities designed to spark their interest in the manufacturing opportunities available.”

Organizations represented at the event included Phoenix Packaging Operations LLC; James Hardie Building Products; Red Sun Farms; Salem Stone Corporation; Motion Control Systems LLC; Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing; Camrett Logistics; Metal Processing; Korona Candles Inc.; and NRCC.

Megan Atkinson, career and technical education director for Pulaski County Public Schools, is particularly interested in ensuring that the county’s students are aware of manufacturing career opportunities.

Pulaski County Public Schools has been actively exploring ways to engage students with advanced manufacturing and bring awareness to what manufacturing is and what growing opportunities exist locally in order to prepare the existing student body for the future workforce.

“Our manufacturers in Pulaski County have been gracious enough to open their doors for the last five years and invite a select group of students in to see what they do," Atkinson said. "The schools, Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Authority, New River Community College and key players from our manufacturing community put our heads together and dreamed up the Manufacturing Expo. Based on career exploration experiences that our students currently participate in, the team designed an event that would educate Pulaski County Public Schools students on the various career opportunities in the manufacturing industry, and that would also give manufacturers the chance to meet and develop relationships with their future workforce.”

White was overwhelmed by the response from local manufacturers, and especially the students.

“The Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to be a part of the excitement that was generated from our manufacturers to the eighth graders as the students visited and engaged with each manufacturer,” said White. “It was amazing to hear the comments and surprise from the students as they exclaimed that they had no idea all of this was here in Pulaski.”

White added: “Pulaski County is fortunate to have the businesses and industry that are truly dedicated to cultivating the future workforce, their workforce, and the chamber is proud to play a part in this successful venture.”

Submitted by Jill Ross

Submitted by Jill Ross

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