Members of the N.C. Food Manufacturing Task Force took the first bites off the group’s to-do list at its July 16 meeting, as each of four subcommittees started working on their respective areas of focus: business recruitment, food industry needs assessment, communications/advocacy/partnerships, and infrastructure needs for the food manufacturing supply chain.
Seated at round tables in the Martin Building at the State Fairgrounds, members of the subcommittees addressed a variety of questions and began mapping out a way to meet their objectives. Members enthusiastically discussed how the state can bolster its lineup of food manufacturers and create jobs.
The task force is composed of 35 members with expertise in agriculture, meat and dairy production, crop production, agribusiness, food processing, food packaging, transportation, education, government and economic development. The group’s core leaders are Richard Linton, dean of N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Commerce Secretary John Skvarla.
An economic feasibility study done by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the NCDA&CS estimates that advancement of a Food Processing and Manufacturing Initiative could add nearly 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion to North Carolina’s economic output within five years. Agriculture and agribusiness currently have an economic impact of $78 billion. Commissioner Troxler believes that building the food manufacturing sector will help the state achieve the goal of growing that economic impact to $100 billion by the year 2020.
Skvarla said North Carolina has plenty of assets that make it an attractive place for food businesses. “There are many, many states that do not have what we have,” he said.