Chamber Hosts Regional Bus Tour to Promote Manufacturing

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and its economic development affiliate the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation hosted a special manufacturing bus tour on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 for education and community leaders as part of their efforts to promote careers in manufacturing and highlight the importance of manufacturing to North Central Massachusetts.

Attendees on the tour, which also included school superintendents, legislators, economic development officials and members of the media, visited several manufacturing companies where they were able to get an insider’s look at how select manufacturers operate as well as learn about the growing employment opportunities in manufacturing and the necessary skill-sets needed.

The manufacturing bus tour, part of the Chamber’s “Amp It Up!” initiative, included stops at AIS, Inc., a furniture manufacturer based in Leominster that specializes in high-end office systems;  Burkhart-Phelan, Inc., a company founded in 1982 that specializes in the precision manufacturing of high quality flutes and piccolos;  SMC Ltd., a worldwide contract manufacturer of various medical devices and medical equipment;  and Mount Wachusett Community College’s Devens Manufacturing Center, which offers technical training in a number of different areas including advanced manufacturing.  The tour also included a lunch presentation and discussion with Dr. James Vander Hooven, president of Mount Wachusett Community College and Roy Nascimento, president & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce on ways that schools and communities can collaborate with employers.

With over 440 firms, North Central Massachusetts boasts the largest concentration of manufacturing in the state.  Fully one-third of all private wages paid in the region are from manufacturing jobs.  Companies range from the world class plastics industry cluster, to pharmaceuticals, photonics, paper, and biomedical devices.

Manufacturers today are some of the most well-paid, highly trained and in demand employees in the workforce, working on advanced equipment and technology.  However, many manufacturers have been challenged recruiting the workers they need.  Despite the high wage potential and increasing employer demand, there is both a need for more young workers and a skills gap among an existing and a transitioning workforce.

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation remain committed to supporting and growing this critical sector of the region’s economy.  The organizations are working with partners to address this skills gap, retain the region’s young talent, and introduce them to the high-tech, high-skilled, and high-paying careers of the modern manufacturing industry.  The Chamber believes that building successful education partnerships between businesses and the region’s schools is critical to collective,
on-going efforts.

The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank and acknowledge the support and assistance of the following partners who helped make the event possible:  MassDevelopment; MassHire North Central Workforce Board; AIS, Inc.; Burkart-Phelan, Inc.; SMC Ltd.; Mount Wachusett Community College; and Fitchburg Access Television (FATV).

The purpose of the “AMP it up!” initiative is to leverage new and existing resources to continue ongoing efforts to reach career counselors, community organizations, youth-serving organizations, educators, and most importantly students throughout North Central Massachusetts.  The Chamber’s “Amp It Up!” initiative is funded in part through a matching grant from MassDevelopment.  Other partners include Fitchburg State University, Mt. Wachusett Community College and school systems throughout the region.  Ongoing efforts to promote manufacturing careers have also included engaging the schools and offering career exploration activities to students, hosting student tours, participating in career day activities and promoting manufacturing via a targeted social media campaign.

For more information on the manufacturing bus tour or the “Amp It Up!” Initiative, please contact the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce at 978.353.7600.