LEE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a partnership between Carolina Community College in Sanford and Vietnamese electric vehicle maker Vinfast.
The school will help train future workers for the company.
Standing inside the future site of the E. Eugene Moore Manufacturing and Biotech Solutions Center, Central Carolina Community College student Vickie Nelson sharing her perspective on a recent string of economic announcements in the region.
"It's crucial. We have a lot of jobs here, but we don't have a lot of careers. These big companies coming in are going to offer a career and can take people who are struggling right now, because there's not a lot here in Sanford, they can take people like me specifically because I need a career. I need a career to support a family," said Nelson, who wants to enter the biotech industry.
Gov. Cooper was joined by state and local leaders, as well as VinFast management, while touting the planned facility. At 220,000 square feet, it will focus on training and reskilling workers in several sectors, raining from industrial systems, engineering technology, welding, and machining amongst others.
So far, $21.7 million has been raised, largely from county sources, with additional funding from donations, Central Carolina Community College, SCIF (State Capital Infrastructure Fund), and a special NCGA allocation. Now, the focus is shifting to whether lawmakers in the General Assembly will find the remaining $50 million in the state budget.
"So much has gone into attracting North Carolina's first automobile manufacturing facility, it would not be wise to just say we're not going to do anything to help train the employees. I think everybody understands we're going to need a facility like this," said Gov. Cooper, noting the impact the training site would also have on the biotechnology and life sciences fields.
VinFast, which pledged $4 billion and 7,500 jobs as part of its manufacturing facility in Chatham County, showed off two of its vehicles part of Wednesday's event. The company, which last month announced plans they would delay the beginning of production in the US from 2024 to 2025 , and has faced departures of senior leadership, reaffirmed their plans to come to the area.
"We were a bit aggressive at the beginning. However, our commitment is very strong," said Van Anh Nguyen, CEO of VinFast Manufacturing US.
Recent jobs announcements have played a large role in population growth across the Triangle, including in Lee County.
"Developers want to put more apartments on the ground. Well, when you get attractive land, you normally have to rezone to get the density to allow them to do that. Lee County and Sanford has been accepting of that. Again, we have capacity. We have water and sewer," said John Ramsperger, owner of Sanford Real Estate.
Ramsperger added that developers are now planning more townhomes and condos in the county.
"One of the biggest new starts as far as percentages has been the multifamily. And certainly if you're looking at apartments, you're looking at vacancy rates and occupancy rates. So vacancy rates are at near zero, occupancy rates are at 97 plus percent," said Ramsperger.
Production is set to begin in 2025.