NRCC Students Primed for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing

NEW RIVER VALLEY, VA— This past month, the New River Valley Alliance was invited to tour New River Community College, along with Radford University’s President Brian Hemphill and several other community and business leaders. The tour and discussions focused on how NRCC prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing and technology.

New River Community College emphasizes real-world experience, and one of its goals is to develop curricula that enable students to find jobs in their field here in the New River Valley.  Not only does the college invest in the latest manufacturing technologies, but it also partners with local businesses to tailor programs to an employer’s specific needs (i.e. if there is a particular material that companies want future employees to be skilled in using, the business often donates samples of the material to NRCC to use).

In the Machine Technology program, John Somervell, Assistant Professor of Machine Shop Technology, teaches a group of 35 to 40 students each year the techniques required for a twenty-first century machinist.  It’s a tight space filled with simulators, lathes, and milling machines, and John explained that he can’t place students fast enough.  Although he advises students to complete their two-year degree to earn higher wages, some inevitably leave the program early for full-time employment—their skillset is that high in demand.

The program equips students to become machine tool operators—lathe operators, drill press operators, inspectors and tool crib attendants—all positions that employers like Federal MogulKollmorgenMoogWolverine Advanced Materials, and other New River Valley employers need.

The Instrumentation and Control Automation program, on the other hand, prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing at employers like CelaneseAmerican Electric PowerHollingsworth & Vose, andTechLab.  With a starting salary well into the $50 to 60k+ range, Instrumentation is popular at NRCC with over 150 students enrolled in the two-year program (55 students in their final year).

Much of the Instrumentation program’s success is due to Montie Fleshman, Professor of Instrumentation Technology, who piloted several innovative flex courses that incorporate both online and classroom teaching.  Since students can now access recorded lectures online, incompletion rates dropped from 30% to 3%.  Montie also dialogues with employers to develop new labs that meet workforce needs.  As a result, New River Community College created a state-of-the-art mechatronics lab which teaches students how to combine electronics, mechanics, and computing into a streamlined process—a skillset that most advanced manufacturing and engineering employers look for in today’s graduates.

Advanced Manufacturing today requires that students learn a mix of electronic, mechanic, and computer science skills—whether testing a gas turbine or producing advanced materials for the automotive industry.  From teaching students the newest in techniques and technologies to introducing them to local employers looking to expand their workforce, New River Community College primes students for successful careers in advanced manufacturing.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for a beautiful place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of both worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s A NATURAL FIT.

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

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NRV a top 30 “Leading Location” for new and expanding businesses

Date:  June 15, 2016

New River Valley, VA – The New River Valley is one of the hottest places in America for new and expanding business, according to Area Development. The magazine recently released its ranking of the top 100 Leading Locations in the U.S. for 2016.

The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metropolitan statistical area (MSA), encompassing the entire New River Valley, ranked No. 30 overall and No. 12 among mid-sized metros with populations between 160,000 to 600,000. The New River Valley was one of only two metros in Virginia designated a Leading Location. Richmond, VA made the list at No. 68 overall.

In its sixth year, the Leading Locations for 2016 rankings analyzed economic and workforce data for 394 MSAs to determine recent and long-term economic vitality as well as each metros capacity to support business growth. The four primary indicators used to compile the rankings included Prime Workforce, Economic Strength, Year-Over-Year Growth, and Five Year Growth.

Prime Workforce helped propel the New River Valley to its high overall ranking. The region ranked No. 4 overall; No. 2 among mid-sized metros. A high ranking in Prime Workforce was attributed to an area’s strong and growing nucleus of well-educated and qualified 18- to 44-year-olds in the workforce.

The availability of a qualified workforce was one of the leading indicators included in the Leading Locations ranking. Area Development indicated that when choosing a place to locate or expand, executives generally prefer to pick a place with a solid pipeline of potential employees that will allow the company to hit the ground running and support future growth.

College communities were well represented among the Top 10 Prime Workforce locations. Area Development found this to be “no surprise” because many graduates choose to join the workforce after graduation and college towns tend to be hotbeds of innovation.

Virginia’s New River Valley is no exception to this finding. The region benefits from not one, but two universities – Virginia Tech and Radford University – and an exceptional community college – New River Community College. With approximately 45,000 students, these institutions provide a steady pipeline of talent for companies in the New River Valley to draw from. Virginia Tech, a top 40 research university, is also a major catalyst for the region’s growing technology sector.

NRV ranked a top job destination for college graduates

Date:  March 8, 2016

New River Valley, VA – In its first annual Employment Destinations Index, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) ranked the most attractive places in the U.S. where young college graduates want to live and work. The Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford Metropolitan Statistical Area, encompassing the entire New River Valley, ranked No. 20 in the nation among metro areas with populations less than 250,000.


The 2015 Employment Destinations Index is based on eight economic and quality-of-life factors that AIER found to influence migration patterns of college grads ages 22-35 among 260 metro areas, large and small. A few of the factors contributing to the New River Valley’s high ranking included its favorable labor market conditions, affordable housing rents, ability to get around without a car, and density of people with a college degree.


“With the Employment Destinations Index, we identify what captures young people’s imagination and entices them to test the waters in cities large and small,” said Rosalind Greenstein, director of research and education at AIER. “After making the economic decision to move, the young and educated are looking for places where they can have a meaningful work/life balance.”


Virginia’s New River Valley has a desirable blend of economic opportunity and lifestyle amenities. The diverse mix of businesses, ranging from small startups to large international corporations, provide meaningful career opportunities. Unlike larger metro areas, its small town atmosphere cultivates social interaction and community engagement. The region’s mountain setting is also ideal for enjoying the outdoors, with superb greenways, nature trails and waterways.


AIER also found that many of the destinations ranking at the top of the smallest metro group “benefited from the presence of a university that anchors economic activity, attracts companies relying on high-skill workers, inspires researchers and entrepreneurs to leverage networks, and supports a lively social scene.”


Virginia’s New River Valley is no exception to this finding. The region benefits from not one, but two universities – Virginia Tech and Radford University – and an exceptional community college – New River Community College. These higher education institutions contribute to the cultural and social offerings of the region and provide a steady pipeline of talent for area companies to draw from. Virginia Tech, a top 40 research university, is also a major catalyst for the region’s technology sector and has produced numerous spinout companies through alumni, faculty and researchers.


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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for an inspiring place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of both worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s A NATURAL FIT.


Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Why Some Say Towns Like Blacksburg Could be the Next Silicon Valley

“When it comes to innovation, place matters. Not necessarily because of proximity to facilities or investors (though those are lovely to have, of course), but because creativity is almost always a group endeavor — big ideas are the product not of one big brain, but of many ideas pinging between several smart people.”

Read more from Jessica Stillman at Inc.com.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for an inspiring place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of all worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s A NATURAL FIT.

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.

Christiansburg #26 Best Place to Start a Business in VA

Christiansburg #26 Best Place to Start a Business in VA

“With plenty of incentives for both startups and existing businesses and a state corporate income tax rate among the lowest in the nation at 6%, Virginia’s business-friendly policies appear to…”

NerdWallet analyzed 112 places in Virginia with a population of 5,000 or more. Eleven places with less than 500 businesses and 64 places that were missing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners were excluded.

Read more at NerdWallet.

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Virginia’s New River Valley: For those searching for an inspiring place to live and do business, Virginia’s New River Valley provides both an eclectic small town atmosphere and an innovative, collaborative business community with a loyal, highly skilled, and educated workforce. Offering the best of all worlds – magnificent mountains, cutting-edge research, arts, entertainment, and education – it’s A NATURAL FIT.

Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.