CVCC Receives $750,000 Golden Leaf Community Based Grant to Stem Looming Labor Crisis

Catawba Valley Community College has received a $750,000 Community-Based Grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The grant will be used to purchase equipment and provide training to support the creation of career pathways in composites/metallurgy, automotive/ aerospace, and logistics.

The grant will also support the college’s growing Mechatronics Engineering Technology program, which supplies a highly skilled workforce that works in advanced manufacturing.   The grant’s goals include increasing the volume and rate at which highly skilled technicians can be trained and increasing the number of students participating in work opportunities such as internships, job shadowing, or apprenticeships.

Experts in the manufacturing industry predict a labor crisis created by baby-boomer retirements. Wages in these occupations exceed the county average by as much as 42 percent.

“Advanced manufacturing, especially in the growing areas of composites and metallurgy, is critical in sustaining and growing our region’s economy,” said Julie Pruett, director of business recruitment with the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. “CVCC’s ability to provide high-skilled employees to advanced manufacturers provides us with a competitive advantage when we are working with existing and new companies who are considering our community for a future expansion or new location.”

“The demand and involvement from private sector companies provided a compelling case for this significant investment,” said Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF Foundation. “Innovate Catawba will help the Unifour region move the needle for good jobs for its workers.” 

Industry partners who supported the grant application include AccuForce, ArcelorMittal, Ethan Allen, HSM Solutions, Plastic Packaging, RockTenn, Roll-Tech Molding Products, Performance Food Service-IFH, Sarstedt, Turbotec, United Beverage, and ZF.

Other area agency partners involved include the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, Western Piedmont Council of Governments and Catawba County Schools.

About the Golden LEAF Foundation: 

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,216 grants worth over $538 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call (888) 684-8404.

About Catawba Valley Community College 

Catawba Valley Community College is an accredited, comprehensive North Carolina community college serving Catawba and Alexander counties. More than 4,500 students are enrolled in college credit courses and more than 10,000 students are enrolled in short-term, non-credit learning opportunities. It offers programming in Hickory, Newton and Taylorsville and in many community and workplace locations. For more information, visit