Manufacturers gear up for 2023 State-of-the-State summit

Matthew Fazelpoor//April 24, 2023//

Factory worker
Factory worker

Manufacturers gear up for 2023 State-of-the-State summit

Matthew Fazelpoor//April 24, 2023//

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The State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit returns next week, bringing together industry leaders, stakeholders, STEM firm executives and lawmakers to discuss New Jersey’s manufacturing industry.

The event takes place at the Trenton War Memorial – with no cost to attend – May 4, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The summit offers an opportunity for manufacturers to pose questions to, and engage in open discussion with, policymakers. It also provides the chance to come together and address industry-critical issues, to network and make connections, and to find solutions that will help drive the industry forward, creating economic opportunities.

Additionally, the MADE in NJ exhibit highlights many of the products manufactured right here in the great Garden State.

Last year’s event brought together more than 500 attendees, including manufacturers, industry supporters, lawmakers and others. The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP), which organizes the summit, says that 2022’s show-of-force and turnout helped the industry secure a more than $35 million line item in the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget for manufacturing initiatives, and helped develop the New Jersey Manufacturing Voucher Program (NJMVP), an initiative to offset the cost of new equipment for manufacturers, which NJBIZ has reported on.

“State-of-the-State of Manufacturing is a critical event. Manufacturers often don’t want to engage with local government, but ignoring the people that create policies that can directly impact their business is not productive,” said Pete Connolly, chief operating officer, NJMEP, in a press release. “By engaging with the local Legislature and state decisionmakers, manufacturers can educate these individuals, so they understand the value of domestic manufacturing and develop policy that supports and nurtures MADE in NJ manufacturers.”

Driving NJMEP forward

John Kennedy
John Kennedy, longtime CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, will step down in May. – AARON HOUSTON

The event also comes against the backdrop of major news in the state’s manufacturing world, as longtime NJMEP Chief Executive Officer John Kennedy revealed he is stepping down after 11 years of leading the organization.

He has served as a driving force behind the state’s manufacturing industry since taking the helm in 2012. In that time, NJMEP has worked with thousands of New Jersey manufacturers, supported their growth in excess of $4 billion realized value, and helped the state understand the true value of this often-overlooked industry, guiding it through a number of major challenges such as the pandemic and more.

Kennedy also helped NJMEP become the top-rated Manufacturing Extension Program in the country, bringing the company from a 12-person operation to supporting nearly 50 full-time employees and more than 200 independent industry resources.

“I want to thank everyone that has worked alongside me and NJMEP, for their energy and push that helped us get through Superstorm Sandy, COVID, and – now – how we’re handling the Supply Chain & Reshoring issues that includes the offshore wind build-up,” said Kennedy last week in a press release officially announcing the retirement news. “None of these things can be handled by a single individual.”

“John has given so much of himself to NJMEP and the entire manufacturing industry,” said Howard McIlvaine, vice president of operations for UNEX Manufacturing. “His commitment to the people that drive manufacturing forward has taken NJMEP to new heights and shined a spotlight on the challenges domestic manufacturers face. Not only has he highlighted the challenges of local manufacturers, but he has also led NJMEP and the state to develop solutions to these disruptions to create a more competitive business landscape.”

Kennedy will officially stepg down May 31. He will be succeeded by Connolly, who will take the reins as CEO and center director June 1.

“I joined the board over 12 years ago and worked with John to ensure NJMEP provides the best possible support to the New Jersey manufacturing industry,” said Connolly. “I watched as the business grew and the impact on manufacturers soared. I’m excited to pick up where John is leaving off and continue driving NJMEP forward, to ensure manufacturing receives the support it needs to thrive here in New Jersey and nationwide. Manufacturing drives our country forward and I’m proud to be part of that initiative.”

More details about the upcoming State-of-the-State of Manufacturing summit can be found here.

“Manufacturing is going to be forgotten if industry leaders don’t come out in droves to show support,” Connolly added.