Charlotte can become international business hub, CPCC leader says
By Celeste Smith
Charlotte can promote its burgeoning reputation as an energy hub to also build its global business standing, Tony Zeiss, president of Central Piedmont Community College, said Wednesday.
Pieces are already in place for that, Zeiss said, including the city’s pro-business climate and Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the nation’s sixth-busiest based on takeoffs and landings. And given Charlotte’s proximity to southeastern U.S. ports, the city could gain after Panama Canal widening is completed in 2014 to accommodate large cargo ships.
“That gives us a tremendous advantage of becoming an international business hub,” Zeiss said, speaking to the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club, a networking group for executives. About 60 attended a luncheon at Zebra Restaurant in the SouthPark area.
Charlotte’s long-standing connection with German businesses drew national attention earlier this year, Zeiss said. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address mentioned Central Piedmont Community College and Siemens, the German energy giant that opened a state-of-the-art gas turbine plant in southwest Charlotte last year.
CPCC partners with Siemens to provide manufacturing and job skills training. Jackie Bray, a Siemens employee who received skills training through a CPCC program, sat with Michelle Obama during the president’s address.
Also, CPCC recently announced it is partnering with a German chamber of commerce on a new certification program that meets German business standards. That means German companies looking to expand in the United States will have an automatic pool of candidates.
“Now everybody’s looking at us,” Zeiss said. “We’re looking to become the best European (-friendly) – particularly German-friendly – college in America.”
As the community college – now with six campuses – turns 50 next year, Zeiss said its continuing mission remains preparing students for jobs of the future. Growing fields include health professions, energy, information technology and mechatronics, a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering.
His advice to students with majors that offer less of a guarantee: “Make sure there’s a job at the end of where you’re going.”