An Industrial Revolution Locally

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The Economic Development Commissions of Suffield and East Granby co-hosted a workshop on Manufacturing, Workforce Development and Education in November at the New England Air Museum. 125 attended from the area, including manufacturers, educators, and professionals from banking, real estate, and government. Sponsors were: MB Aerospace, Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Bradley Development League, Connecticut Dept. of Economic and Community Development, and Hartford Business Journal. Opening remarks were made by Bart Kollen, Deputy Commissioner, DECD. The distinguished panel included: David Hudson, President & CEO, Joining Industries; Dennis Chalk, President, Marmon Engineered Wire & Cable; Paul Murphy, Exec. Dir., Aerospace Component Manufacturers; Dr. James Lombella, President, Asnuntuck & Tunxis Community Colleges; Dr. Cliff Thermer, Chair, Business Mgmt. & Adv. Manufacturing, Goodwin College; Professor Michael Accorsi, Sr. Assoc. Dean, UConn School of Engineering; and Susan Palisano, Dir., Education & Workforce Development, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT). Topics discussed were: What’s working and what’s not? Bridging the talent gap; recruitment and the future of manufacturing.

The clear message of the morning was that manufacturing is on the rise in Connecticut. There was reference to the “4th Industrial Revolution,” offering thousands of good paying jobs. The challenge, as manufacturers in Connecticut continue to ramp up production, is finding a skilled workforce to fill these jobs.

“I truly believe that education needs to include parents, students and school counselors to help them learn more about modern manufacturing,” said attendee Matthew Service of Suffield, afterwards. “Many parents still think manufacturing is low tech and low paying, with little or no room for advancement.” Service is a member of the Suffield Board of Education.

“This is a good first step,” said Bill Hawkins, Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Suffield. “The Bradley Development League, [made up of Suffield, East Granby, Windsor, Windsor Locks, and the Airport] is looking at how to best market our area to attract businesses. Maybe we need to market the job opportunities in manufacturing that are here already, to attract a workforce.”

Susan Palisano of CCAT said “another challenge and opportunity in manufacturing, is seen by looking at this panel. Too few women are in the field.” David Hudson declared: “The future of manufacturing is lasers.”

For more information on this program, or future ones, contact Kevin Bielmeier at 

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