More Support is Needed to Amplify and Empower Manufacturing 

Last Friday, the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) held its annual ‘Made in New Jersey Manufacturing Day’ in Freehold – a day-long event that saw upwards of 750 attendees – and featured discussions on how to ensure New Jersey manufacturers benefit from federal investments in manufacturing.

“[This day] serves as a platform to showcase the diversity and ingenuity that defines our manufacturers in New Jersey,” said NJMEP CEO Peter Connolly. “It is a day to recognize the individuals that turn raw materials into something extraordinary, and the organizations that invest in the future and drive progress, not only for the community, but for the entire state.”

“For too long, [manufacturers] have been an underappreciated asset,”  said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “It is up to all of us to make sure we continue to amplify and elevate what you do at both the state and federal levels.”

Siekerka called it a critical time in the country for manufacturing.

“There is a lot of money being invested in manufacturing right now and we need to ensure that we get the fair share for all of you here in the state of New Jersey as things are being considered across the country,” she said.

Siekerka, who serves on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers, added that it is imperative to continue to work at the state and federal levels to, “bring home to New Jersey all the opportunities being contemplated across the country, and shine a light on what [New Jersey manufacturers] do.”

One example of opportunity for the industry is via funding from the CHIPS and Science Act, which is providing roughly $280 billion in new funding to boost domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors in the US.

During a panel discussion on New Jersey industry and government collaboration, NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Christopher Emigholz said he wants to make sure New Jersey manufacturers benefit from the act.

“We need to make sure that our state is bringing everyone along – including the Legislature and the higher education community – in a coordinated and centralized fashion, so that we are in the best position to take advantage of CHIPS. We aren’t going to get [this opportunity] that often, so while it is exciting, we need to make sure New Jersey is there [and positioned to benefit].”

Senator Michael Testa (R-1) echoed the importance of New Jersey getting its “fair share of funding from federal spending packages.”

“I believe our partnership with manufacturing and higher ed is truly the pathway back for so many of our young folks and folks who are leaving other careers to pursue a career in manufacturing,” Testa said. “To have different pathways and stackable credentials from our community colleges is the wave of the future. It is an asset that we are not yet taking full advantage of.”

He added that the state also needs to do a better job at making sure its best and brightest are staying in New Jersey, so that manufacturers have access to the resources they so desperately need.

“We need to create a better business climate in New Jersey so that our manufacturers aren’t merely surviving, but instead thriving,” Testa said. “The fact that after the sunset of the corporate business tax, we are still going to have the fourth worst CBT in the country, is not enough. We have to do a better job so that we can keep, and attract, more businesses here.”

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