The primary challenge for most of these initiatives has been whether the participants can secure sufficient governmental backing to launch and initially operate the hubs. Some lawmakers have concerns whether the hubs can become self-sufficient in an appropriate amount of time, particularly as other constituencies clamor for limited federal dollars at a time of record deficits. But supporters point to fledging initiatives that are showing early signs of success.
In 2012, Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub in North Carolina was featured in the President’s State of the Union address. The Charlotte facility is the Germany-based Siemens AG’s worldwide hub for 60Hz fossil power generation equipment manufacturing and service, with additional capabilities for the 50Hz market.
Opened in 1969, the facility has manufactured and serviced generators and steam turbines for the power generation market for decades. In November 2011, the facility was expanded, adding gas turbine production and service capabilities. The expansion, along with other facility improvements, represents a $350 million total investment and nearly 1,000 additional jobs. Since 2008, Siemens has exported more than $800 million of power generation equipment, and its newly expanded gas turbine manufacturing capabilities will contribute more than $200 million a year to its exports.
In September, Siemens announced that it had given Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC a $32 million in-kind software grant, providing the college with access to the company’s product life-cycle management software, known as PLM. Central Piedmont will use the technology to develop new course offerings related to advanced manufacturing, mechatronics, robotics and information technology, as well as mechanical, electrical, civil and electronics engineering. This will, in turn, enable the college to produce more highly-skilled workers and better position the Charlotte region for recruiting businesses.