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The State of New York’s Manufacturing Empire

Blog Developed by: FuzeHub
More manufacturing is coming back to the United States – and that’s good news for the Empire State. The percentage of New Yorkers working in factories has declined over the years, but manufacturing jobs pay higher average wages than non-manufacturing work, especially upstate. Greater incomes aren’t the only benefits to New York communities, however. Manufacturing also encourages innovation, promotes workforce development, and uses natural resources wisely.
According to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group, more than half the executives at manufacturing companies with sales more than $1 billion plan to return some production to the U.S. from China, or are considering reshoring. Modern machinery and equipment will replace low-skilled labor, but quality-conscious companies still need a trained workforce. Otherwise, orders will pile up, as textile companies in Minnesota are learning while trying to meet demand for American-made goods.
Detractors blame manufacturing’s struggles on everything from dull, repetitive work to environmental pollution, but modern manufacturers need highly-trained employees and energy-efficient facilities. They also want community support, access to experts, and public policies that support manufacturing. With over 400,000 employees in manufacturing jobs, New York is one of 19 states that are leading the U.S. in a manufacturing resurgence.
New York’s Regional Economic Councils
New York’s Regional Economic Development Councils are public-private partnerships that empower local leaders from business, government, and education to grow their own economies. Since 2011, Albany has awarded the Empire State’s 10 Regional Councils over $1.5 billion, encouraging innovation and promoting community development. With over 19,000 companies and 50,000 executives listed in one statewide database, New York is a manufacturing powerhouse.
Each part of the Empire State is different, of course, so what’s best for Buffalo may not work as well in Watertown. To find the right kinds and combinations of resources, New York manufacturers need to make connections. By helping to connect manufacturers to the right resources, FuzeHub supports the work of the Regional Councils and is strengthening New York’s manufacturing empire.
New York City and the Mid-Hudson and Mohawk Valleys
Success stories from across the Empire State illustrate the diversity of manufacturing challenges and opportunities. In the New York City region, for example, a fusion of creative and technical talent has transformed part of the old Brooklyn Naval Yard into New Lab, a place for product design, prototyping, and modern manufacturing. Current and future tenants in this 4000 sq. ft. space specialize in disciplines ranging from additive manufacturing to parametric modeling to biotechnology.
From its headquarters in Newburgh, the Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing (CGAM) supports manufacturers in the mid-Hudson and Mohawk Valleys through training and education, incubation and acceleration, and technology transfers. For example, in honor of National Manufacturing Day, CGAM sponsored educational events and conferences at both SUNYIT and Mount St. Mary College. Panelists were drawn from the ranks of local manufacturers who shared their own insights and expertise.
The Capital Region and New York’s Tech Valley
In the Capital Region,  a self-described group of “makers, hackers, crafters, and artists” shares the innovative ethos of CGAM and New Lab.  Based in Troy, the Tech Valley Center of Gravity (TVCOG) organizes networking events and hosts technology forums about hot topics such as 3D printing. For entrepreneurs in search of emerging-technology opportunities, New York’s Tech Valley provides a place to connect with like-minded business leaders.
Across the river from Troy in Albany, the Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is working with New York’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and FuzeHub to promote economic development initiatives. New York State’s capital is also the home of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), a world-class institution that’s accelerating high-tech commercialization in nanotechnology-related industries.
Elsewhere in New York’s Tech Valley, the town of Marcy may someday rival the Capital Region in recruiting chip fab factories. Last month, CNSE officials announced preliminary plans to transform 430 acres into a site that could attract  $10 billion in investment and create thousands of jobs. During the mid-2000s, the town of Malta was chosen by GLOBALFOUNDREIS, Inc. as the site of the Luther Forest Technology Campus, the recipient of $8.5 in investment and creator of over 2000 jobs.
Central New York
In Central New York, communities near SUNY institutions and select public and private colleges are excited about the new START-UP program, an innovative approach to economic development. By partnering with world-class educational institutions, new and existing businesses can earn an exemption from state taxes. Employees of these same companies also receive financial incentives in the form of a 10-year exemption from the state income tax.
By aiding entrepreneurs and keeping college graduates in their communities, upstate New York can strengthen its manufacturing base. Easing regulatory burdens is also important, as a recent State Senate hearing in Syracuse attests. In addition to elected officials, participants included representatives from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY).
Ithaca is also leading the way. According to Area Development Online, the central New York city is ranked 66th out of 380 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for  economic development and job growth. The Leading Locations for 2013 report bases Ithaca’s overall ranking on 21 economic indicators, including wage and salary growth, workforce educational levels, and manufacturing employment growth as a percentage of total population.
Rochester and Buffalo
To the west, Rochester is the future home of the BEST Testing and Commercialization Center, which will provide key capabilities to companies seeking to commercialize energy storage technologies. As part of the New York Battery and Energy Technology Consortium (NY BEST) and in partnership with DNV KEMA, a leading global energy consultancy, the BEST Testing and Commercialization Center will offer testing, validation, and independent certification capabilities.
Recently, NOHMs Technologies Inc. announced plans to locate a pilot nanoscale battery materials manufacturing facility in Rochester. After converting 8,000 square feet of office and lab space into a research, development and advanced manufacturing facility, NOHMs will produce lithium sulfur battery materials and battery cell prototypes. The project is the recipient of $1.5 million from the Regional Economic Development Council, and is expected to create 100 jobs during the next three years.
On the shores of Lake Erie, the newest star in the Queen City’s crown is Billion for Buffalo, an advanced manufacturing resource institute that’s coming to western New York.  Plans are in the works for a state-funded research and resource center that will help businesses in the Buffalo area to compete on a global scale. By accessing cutting-edge technologies and following industry best practices, local companies can increase product reliability and boost performance while reducing costs.
The North Country and the Southern Tier
In the North Country, Clarkson University recently hosted a forum on National Manufacturing Day with presentations by Alcoa, Corning, and Potters Industries, as well as the Canino School of Engineering Technology at SUNY Clanton. Located in Plattsburgh and home to an excellent engineering program of its own, Clarkson was named to the Business Insider Top 10 List of the Most Underrated Colleges in America, based on criteria such as graduates’ future income.
New York’s Southern Tier is the future site of a Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Center (SAMC) and the recent recipient of a $15 million state grant. In a part of the Empire State where employment in manufacturing is 2.5 times higher than the state average, small and medium enterprises are vital to the region. Dubbed “Retooling the Southern Tier”, this new initiative will create an estimated 2,340 jobs in the region by 2020, with over 1000 starting within the first three years.
Building Momentum
Manufacturing in the New York region grew less than forecast in September, but the Empire State saw a strong rise in new orders (0.3 to 2.4) and a nearly 15-point increase in shipments (1.5 to 16.4). Although some media reports headlined a decline in the general business conditions index (8.24 to 2.69), the Empire State manufacturing survey marked the fourth straight month in which conditions for New York manufacturers improved.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) reported that its index of national factory activity rose from 55.7 in August to 56.2 in September, marking its highest level since April 2011. As reshoring moves production back to the United States and groups like New York’s Regional Economic Councils find innovative ways to foster economic development, the Empire State is poised to make the most of new manufacturing opportunities.


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