Guest Opinion: Manufacturing Alive and Well in the Commonwealth
September 29, 2014 : Taunton Daily Gazette, by Greg Bialecki
Thanks to an unprecedented focus by the Patrick Administration and an innovative partnership with the private sector, manufacturing is alive and well in the Commonwealth with nearly 250,000 people now working in manufacturing in the state. These aren’t the factories of your grandparents’ or even parents’ generations; today’s manufacturing employees earn competitive middle-class wages in jobs that challenge their brains and utilize their skills. The Commonwealth’s more than 7,000 manufacturers make some of the best high-tech products in the robotics, medical devices and defense fields, as well as household goods, from food to clothing, in the world.
Even economic-development novices know that Massachusetts has become a global leader in the innovation economy due to our strengths in education, technology and entrepreneurship. This intellectual competitive edge has set the foundation for the Commonwealth to assert its leadership in manufacturing as well.
In every region of Massachusetts, manufacturers have succeeded by relying on a highly skilled workforce, adopting new technologies, and focusing on innovation. But as Baby Boomers retire over the decade, the manufacturing sector will have tens of thousands of vacant jobs from those losses alone. Recent trends suggest that manufacturers will have to not only fill these vacancies, but will have other job openings to offer as well.
The trend extends far beyond the inner core. In September, Nypro celebrated the grand opening of its new medical device manufacturing facility in Devens, the home of 15 manufacturers according to a July UMass Donahue Institute report. In October, AccuRounds in Avon will hold an open house to celebrate its recent expansion. Throughout Massachusetts, and especially in our Gateway Cities, advanced manufacturing is leading to growth and opportunities of all different kinds.
The U.S. industrial revolution started in Massachusetts. And the building blocks for a 21st century manufacturing renaissance in Massachusetts are coming into place through a partnership of our state’s educators, the business community and public sector. The Commonwealth has prioritized keeping and expanding the nation’s best educated workforce.
Throughout Massachusetts, regional partnerships of manufacturers, vocational schools, community colleges, and workforce leaders are developing innovative programs that allow people of different ages and backgrounds to train for manufacturing jobs. The Patrick Administration and the Legislature recently created a $12 million Middle Skills Trust Fund to accelerate the impact of these programs. A new $10 million capital program will make sure that students are trained on the latest, industry-relevant equipment.
MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s quasi-governmental economic-development authority, has recently launched two initiatives: an on-line portal that serves as a one-stop center for manufacturers to find the assistance they need and a promotional campaign (AMP it up!) to encourage young people and their adult influencers to pursue manufacturing careers. Check out both programs at rampma.com and ampitupma.com.
Thanks to Governor Patrick’s leadership, manufacturing is alive and well in the Commonwealth. We must continue our efforts and expand opportunities throughout the Commonwealth for students to get good jobs that lead to satisfying careers. In doing so, we will ensure the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth for years to come.
Greg Bialecki serves as the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.