Creating Jobs in Rural NC

Creating Jobs in Rural NC

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Solar Energy

Businesses connected to North Carolina’s clean energy economy continue to grow and add jobs and financial investments in communities across every region of our state. There are many different types of renewable energy companies involved with these new economic development opportunities but also quite a few “unexpected” stories and connections.

One such example involves HardHat Workforce Solutions, a construction staffing company based in Greensboro that works with companies and job seekers across the Southeast. Recently, it has seen a significant increase in recruiting work for the placement of contractors on solar projects, especially in rural counties of North Carolina.

Rocky Hartman, president of HardHat Workforce Solutions, explains that North Carolina’s clean energy industry is providing more opportunities for a wide range of people with construction skill sets in various projects.

“There is tremendous opportunity and a great need in the solar industry for these workers, especially in rural counties across North Carolina, that unfortunately, are continuing to struggle economically,” says Rocky. “It’s exciting – we are putting people to work and creating new opportunities that didn’t exist in the past.”

Many previous home construction workers who lost their jobs following the real estate market crash 6-7 years ago found new job opportunities in solar, which was just starting to take off in NC and has been growing strong ever since.

By adding solar projects to HardHats’ service offering, the company has grown by approximately 35% in the last 5 years. “The potential for growth in the solar industry is staggering. An entire new industry has been created – and substantial workforce – that didn’t exist in North Carolina before,” adds Rocky.

And, the job opportunities in clean energy are on the rise for woman as well. From HardHat’s experience, approxiAngela Pearsall with Site Superintendent Matthew Jeffersonmately 5-10% of solar workers are women, compared to 1-2% within the construction industry as a whole.

In addition to construction workers, there are opportunities for project manager jobs as the volume of clean energy projects continues to grow in North Carolina.

Recently unemployed, Angela Pearsall, from Warsaw, NC, found it difficult to find a job until she was connected with HardHat. She was placed three months ago at a Strata Solar project site called Stikeleather, located in Hiddennite, North Carolina, which is in Alexander County in between Hickory and Winston-Salem. As the Site Coordinator, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations, payroll, and even jokes that she is the ‘mothership’ of the project site.

“I could not imagine going back to what I was doing before,” says Angela. “I was looking for a job for over a year and half and actually moved five hours from my hometown to work here. That’s how much I wanted this job. Strata Solar and HardHat have given me the greatest opportunity. I have found my niche.”

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