New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program President and Chief Executive Officer John Kennedy welcomed hundreds of people to National Manufacturing Day on Friday at The Marigold in Somerset. New Jersey Business & Industry Association President Michele Siekerka touted manufacturing and noted the NJBIA began 110 years ago.
“Think back 110 years in manufacturing,” Siekerka said. “We represent all types of industries. Our passion starts with New Jersey manufacturers. … We support the aerospace industry. … New Jersey manufacturing supports the economy of the world.”
Kennedy said there is a manufacturing caucus that consists of New Jersey legislators. It came into existence a few years ago to connect legislators with manufacturing companies. The legislators are looking at proposed bills to see if they can be made into “reasonable support for the industry.”
Chairperson of the Manufacturing Caucus, Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14th District, recognized the late Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, who passed away in September at the age of 81. Bucco was the president of Baker Titan Adhesives, a manufacturing company based in Paterson.
“We found him to be a real gentleman and extremely knowledgeable about the field,” Greenstein said. She also stated that the manufacturing caucus helped pass a bond act to support vocational and technical schools.
“We have a large amount of money to deal with the vo-tech schools,” Greenstein said. “We seem to feel the most important thing is to have an action agenda. The time has come to act. For us that is legislation. We have at least 40 bills and we are trying to whittle them down to just a couple. Expect to see legislation in what you do.”
She added that the state is looking for a more permanent source of funding for NJMEP.
New Jersey manufacturing supports the economy of the world.
– Michele Siekerka, president, NJBIA
One of the “big new things” announced recently, Greenstein stated, was the red tape committee. “If somebody applies for something and it is sitting in someone’s office for six months, that is a problem … I have heard people leave the state because they cannot get everything done.”
Developing the workforce
Separately, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th District, discussed manufacturing in terms of the business needs of today and the future, and that a piece of that was dependant on workforce development.
“We are providing you with the workforce you need. We have created the country’s first apprenticeship program around fusion engineering and are working on fusion energy at the plasma lab.”
James Hoffman, a STEM teacher at Newton High School, and coach of the Newton High School First Varsity Robotics Team, knows the importance of placing graduates in engineering programs and careers. Hoffman also knows the need to have legislators, educators, and manufacturers work closely together to create a living wage for their citizens.
Philip Singerman, associate director for Innovation and Industry Services at the National Institute of Standards recognized the young people from Newton High School and Toms River. He said having them experience being on the floor and learning at Manufacturing Day gives those in the industry confidence in the future of the country.
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program President and CEO John Kennedy lauded the students and manufacturers.