Yesterday, North Carolinians woke up to some very unpleasant news that Dell decided to close its computer manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem, Forsyth Co, NC by the end of this year and lay off its entire workforce of 905 employees.
While I may not like it, I can understand the economics of shutting down a textile mill or a furniture plant. It’s a new world we are living in. But Dell? Computers?! If the leading computer manufacturer is suffering during the recession, what can anyone else hope for? Is there any industry that can still compete and grow?
And it seems that the answer may, perhaps, be Yes – the green industry.
Ginny Skalski, a good friend and local uber-social-networking-maven recently got a job with CREE as their social media person. And she invited me and Ashley Sue Allen to attend yesterday’s press conference:
My first surprise was the size of the Cree campus in RTP – it is enormous. I was not aware until yesterday that this is a 20 years old company and how big it was.
As a blogger, I was, forwardthinkingly (is that a word?) of them, seated up front with the media, sitting right next to state Rep. McKissick of Durham and not needing a telephoto lens or zoom to take this picture of Governor Beverly Purdue who was sitting just a few feet in front of me:
What was the press conference about? The announcement by Cree of almost 600 new job openings, about half of them to be filled by the end of the year, some in RTP and most in their plant in Mecklenburg County. As Cree’s CEO Chuck Swoboda said, Cree started at home – by replacing all the incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs with their own LED lights in all of their own buildings. I have to say that I did not notice any difference in lighting – the room was bright and warmly lit and welcoming:
Governor Purdue greeted the good news by saying that she also started at home – making her own house energy-efficient and outfitted by LED lights….which she also did not notice when they were installed: the light looks just like the incandescent light (and much more pleasant than the metallic fluorescent light).
She also connected the news to the importance of education. Cree was started by a group of students at NCSU 20 years ago and she stressed how such inventions, as well as jobs in such companies, require a strong educational system in the State.
Cree set up a little demo in the back of the room where we could see (and have demonstrated) the difference between incandescent, fluorescent and LED light as well as get information about the energy savings, longevity of the lights, ease of installing them into the existing sockets, and environmental impact:
In the end, before I left, Ginny showed me some cool colors that LEDs come from. I have used the infrared LEDs in my research many years ago, and was interested to learn about the advancements in technology since then, as well as other uses for LEDs apart from home and business lighting, e.g., in research, medicine and defense.
Read more coverage of the event in News & Observer and Triangle Business Journal. You can see a little bit of me in this picture, all the way in the back, while the mainstream media journalists were interviewing Governor Purdue.
This video comes from NBC17: