The United States is poised to have a resurgence in manufacturing, and it’s New Jersey’s job to make sure that resurgence takes place here, said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka as she kicked off the first State of the State of New Jersey Manufacturing Industry event today in Trenton.
“At the federal level, we hear our new administration talking about bringing manufacturing back to this country,” Siekerka said. “If it’s going to come back in force, it better be coming back here to New Jersey because it started here and we need to re-create it here, we need to keep it here, and we need to grow it here.”
The half-day event was a collaboration of the NJ Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) in partnership with NJBIA, the Commerce and Industry Association and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. MEP’s Chief Executive Officer John Kennedy helped organize the event, bringing together senior manufacturing executives and policymakers for a candid discussion on workforce development, taxation and fees, and environmental and energy policies.
Siekerka noted that 107 years ago, the United States was undergoing tremendous industrialization with New Jersey leading the way, so holding the event in Trenton is a tribute to New Jersey’s strong tradition in manufacturing.
Much like today’s event, manufacturers 107 years ago realized that they needed to have a voice in government because government was imposing new rules and limits on what they could do. A number of manufacturers joined to form what was called the NJ Manufacturers Association, which was the predecessor to NJBIA.
“Our heart and our DNA are in manufacturing; that’s where it all began,” Siekerka said. “Manufacturing is as significant and as vital today in New Jersey as it has been over those 107 years.”
To take advantage of the new emphasis on American manufacturing, New Jersey needs to have a “myopic focus” on what it will take to have a healthy and sustainable climate for manufacturers to succeed. To do that, the manufacturers themselves need to communicate to their advocates what’s working, and, more importantly, what isn’t.
“We can’t be your voice and go out there to advocate for you if we don’t know what you need,” Siekerka said.
The event featured three panel discussions designed to examine the issues from a manufacturer’s point of view. Among the panelists were three manufacturers who serve on NJBIA’s board—Robert Staudinger President and CEO of National Manufacturing, Brian Neuwirth, President of UNEX Manufacturing, and Cliff Lindholm, III President and CEO of Falstrom Company.