SPECIAL TO MANUFACTURING
HARTFORD - Lawmakers had a simple message for Connecticut’s manufacturers during Manufacturing Innovation Day at the state Capitol May 17: Talk to us.
Connecticut’s 4,000 manufacturers generate an astounding $42.7 billion in economic activity each year, yet many state lawmakers admit they don’t know much about manufacturing.
But they want to learn, because the more they know about the challenges manufacturers face - especially finding skilled, talented workers - the more they can help.
“You’ve got to invite your legislators to your business to see what you’re doing,” said , R-Canton. “It’s not a Democratic or Republican issue.”
, D-New Haven, agreed.
“There’s a lot of information out there that we need to have access to as lawmakers,” she said. “We can’t make sound decisions or be an authentic voice for companies like yours unless we’re communicating back and forth with one another.”
“Listening to folks, working different layers of government to come together, it really does make a difference from a standpoint of economic activity,” said , D-Norwalk.
‘No points for shyness’
, D-Waterbury, noted the long history of manufacturing in her district and how she has always tried to work with manufacturers to help them grow.
“It’s important that you continue to talk to us and you continue to have your employees talk to us because your presence here and your message throughout the course of this session are very important,” she said.
Hartley encouraged manufacturers to continue sending emails and making phone calls to their lawmakers to ensure they are heard.
“There are no points for shyness,” she said.
Filling the talent pipeline
Manufacturing Innovation Day focused on the important role manufacturing plays in Connecticut’s economy and the struggles many manufacturers face in finding the next generation of talent.
at Manufacturing Innovation Day shows that the average compensation for the 159,000-plus people employed in Connecticut manufacturing is $95,118 a year.
Lawmakers have put programs in place to fill the talent pipeline, and CBIA is supporting workforce-development bills in the current legislative session.
“We’re trying to make the connection between vocational high schools, community colleges, and universities, and how we can link them to the manufacturing companies to get people employed and back to work,” Porter said. “It all starts with education and making sure we have the workforce to thrive in manufacturing.”
Although Connecticut’s budget picture casts a long shadow over the state, its manufacturing sector continues to be robust.
“There’s a good sense of optimism here,” said Capri Frank of Miller Foods/Oma’s Pride of Avon. “We have a lot of pride in Connecticut.”
“I do find a new sense of optimism,” said CBIA President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Brennan.
While Connecticut is noted for its larger manufacturers, like United Technologies, small manufacturers are equally important, Duff said.
“The untold story are the much smaller companies that are out there, chugging along, hiring people - one two, three at a time - that are continuing the work of employing folks all across the state of Connecticut,” he said. “It really makes a huge difference.”
Duff said that, despite Connecticut’s budget picture, there is a lot to be proud of.
“We have a lot to brag about here,” Duff told the manufacturers. “Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep hiring.”
The writer is a writer for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.