by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Each October as Manufacturing Day approaches, I’m reminded that Mfg Day really does go on all year long and that you don’t have to be a manufacturer to agree. We all know that manufacturing is vital to the economy at the national, state, and local levels. A day doesn’t go by that there isn’t some sort of news (both positive and negative) on television or social media. There are many organizations, professionals, and funding opportunities in Pennsylvania that support our manufacturing community all year long in a variety of ways.

Manufacturing Day is a celebration of the people and products within industry and is an opportunity to increase awareness and change perceptions about manufacturing careers. Many companies in our region will open their doors on October 6th for students to see first-hand what today’s manufacturing is all about. NWIRC has supported this activity for years with small grants to assist schools with travel expenses. The Manufacturer and Business Association will again host one of the largest Mfg Day events in the country on Oct 11. Throughout the year, technical and career schools in Northwest and North Central PA work to prepare students to fill the skills gap. The Career Street program offers teachers and students manufacturing ‘experiences’ that are listed on their website. NWIRC supports the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing student video contest in North Central, and will introduce it for the first time to middle schools in Erie County this year. Onex, Inc in Erie plans to construct an outdoor classroom for Clark Elementary School to conduct STEM experiments, with support of other manufacturers and community sponsors. All of these activities will help inspire the next generation.

And, the list goes on. Gathering plastics manufacturers last month to discuss opportunities with the new cracker plant, assessments of companies seeing a reduction in Department of Defense (DoD) work, connecting manufacturers with export trade representatives, training assistance for new and current workforce, offering a STEM intern to work on a process improvement project, providing a process for finding new business, developing  apprentice programs, offering a working group in support of a Lean culture…this is just some of the assistance that regional organizations, associations, and industry partnerships provide manufacturers all year long.

We salute all of the companies, their employees, and organizations who keep manufacturing top-of-mind all year long. So MFG Day can come and go, but for so many of us, Manufacturing Day truly is every day.