Manufacturing Jobs on the Rise in Lynchburg

Lynchburg, VA - Manufacturing is the second biggest employer, second to healthcare, in Virginia. According to experts, it's only getting bigger and bigger.

ABC 13 got a tour of Banker Steel, which employs 275 people. In the next year or two, they are planning to grow even more.

The 45,000 square feet facility opened in April, a sign of a blossoming business.

"I do have job postings," said Linda Whitmore.

Whitmore is the HR director and says after fewer and fewer people entering manufacturing for years, the trend's reversing.

She points to one big reason: College graduates.

"Need. I think our 4-year degree people are not finding as many jobs out there as they once did," said Whitmore.

The July jobs outlook backs that up. It's a mixed bag: the good news is that unemployment ticked down a notch. But the bad news is that companies aren't hiring as much as first forecasted.

But amid the doom and gloom nationally, local manufacturing provides an above average salary, often benefits and more and more jobs coming down the pipe.

"We are right at about 275 employees right now, but we are looking to employ more," said Whitmore.

They will be hiring 25 welders in the next year or two.

Brian Davis works with Region 2000 and keeps a watchful eye on our local economy. He calls our manufacturing here pretty healthy and says it often has higher pay than working in retail.

"In terms of impact on the economy that's clearly a strong sector that we want to keep here in the region," said Davis.

Davis says 15,000 people in Region 2000 have a manufacturing job.