Winchester, Virginia has a history of craftsmanship that dates back to Colonial days, and our residents continues to take pride in creating high-quality materials. That’s why well-known manufacturers like Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Continental Automotive Systems, and TREX do business here.
Our city is at the center of a well-educated and highly skilled regional workforce of 4.1 million, including 1.4 million residents who have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree and another 844,000 who have earned an associate degree or its equivalent. Our efforts to strengthen the skilled workforce pipeline that supports 21st century jobs at high-tech organizations like today’s manufacturing companies are being supported by the $200,000 Apprenticeship USA State Accelerator Grant, which the U.S. Department of Labor awarded to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Several factors make our city an attractive choice for manufacturing companies. One is the abundance of affordable utility capacity, coupled with a cooperative working approach from local providers. Another is that Winchester offers outstanding connections throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. By road, we are less than 90 minutes from Washington, and much of the Eastern Seaboard, New England, and the North Central regions are within a day’s drive.
We are close to both Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airports, giving companies access to global air cargo and passenger service, and Winchester Regional Airport offers complete general aviation services. Ocean ports, including the Port of Virginia and the Norfolk International Terminals, are also surprisingly close, making it easier and more affordable for companies to ship finished products.
Local education providers offer programs specifically designed to fill the workforce pipeline and help existing employees add new skills that allow them to take on positions involving greater responsibility. At the high school level, John Handley High School offers career-focused courses, with the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center, a 50,000-square-foot dedicated technical training facility, providing three technical training academies. High school students can gain work-ready skills in industrial maintenance, materials and processes technology, technical drawing and design (CAD), and welding. Laurel Ridge Community College also offers work-based programs to high school students in OSHA certification and CFC (for HVAC) certification. The Worlds of Work! program introduces seventh-graders to manufacturing careers through hands-on exploration.
At the postsecondary level, Laurel Ridge Community College offers continuing education and professional development courses in industrial design, industrial maintenance, welding (including MIG and TIG), computer-aided design, electrical engineering, technical operations, and engineering. LRCC’s Workforce Solutions program develops and delivers customized training on its campus or at employer sites in areas such as business and professional development, heavy equipment operator, certified welder, industrial technology, occupational safety, and obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).