Advanced Manufacturing Pioneers, Past, Present, and Future

This is the second in a series of posts to highlight the initiatives established by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) plan submitted for consideration for a $500 million award from New York State. The plan in its entirety can be found here.

Lumber and wagons. The flexible shaft. Cigars and shoes. Tabulators and business machines. Broome County has good bones when it comes to making things. By the late 1800’s more than fifty cigar factories were manufacturing more than 100 million cigars annually and Broome County ranked only behind New York City in annual production. By the 1940’s Endicott Johnson was producing 52 million pairs of shoes annually from factories in Endicott and Johnson City,  and by the 1970’s International Business Machines became the recognized leader in computer manufacturing.

What does this have to do with the present day? Quite a bit. Our rich history in manufacturing has laid the foundation for what will become the next new and vibrant era in manufacturing in Broome County and the Southern Tier as a whole.  The region is poised to become a hotbed of activity and continue its historic dominance in the area of advanced manufacturing.

Dominance? Absolutely. The Brookings Institution has classified thirty-five advanced industries in manufacturing and the eight-county Southern Tier region excels in eight of these, with “critical mass” in the area of Transportation Products, Components and Control Systems.  The Southern Tier is home to more than seventy companies that directly manufacture or support advanced transportation, including leading multinational firms such as Corning Incorporated, USA Railways Solution, GE, and Lockheed Martin, with an average wage $74,235 and an extremely strong location quotient of 8.968.

Recognizing this, the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council aptly created the Advanced Manufacturing Industry initiative as part of the Southern Tier’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative plan for consideration of a $500 million award by New York State. Winners are expected to be announced within the upcoming weeks.

This initiative is built upon a multi-faceted investment in the advanced manufacturing industry by leveraging advanced infrastructure, educational resources, and a highly skilled workforce. Workforce is critical in this industry, and the southern tier has consistently ranked first in the state for total share of employment for scientists and engineers and Broome County outpaces many of its upstate counterparts in the areas of educational attainment and share of high-tech jobs, demonstrating that the region is ready to take on new investment.

The outcomes and measurable impact of the Advanced Transportation initiative are significant.  An anticipated investment of $183,000,000 will leverage nearly $1 billion in private investment with an overall economic impact of $1.1 billion.  This initiative will retain / create more than 35,000 manufacturing jobs, including 11,000 in the transportation industry sector. Annual exports in the region are expected to reach $15 billion by 2020 by advancing state initiatives such as Global NY.  This initiative will also increase annual average wages of $65,000 to $79,500 in the transportation manufacturing sector.

There are a number of game-changing investments, including a $150 million manufacturing facility in Broome County, increased investment in anchor companies such as Raymond Corporation and Lockheed Martin as well as increased efforts to expand the supply chain for existing manufacturing companies.

The plan proposes the development of a Southern Tier Small Manufacturing Competitiveness Fund to assist small to mid-size manufacturers and the establishment of a Manufacturing Workforce Awareness and Recruitment Promotion program to expand the skilled workforce through partnerships with SUNY Delhi, Corning Community College and SUNY Broome.

The anticipated investment will result in the Southern Tier being recognized as a destination for opportunity in advanced manufacturing and of the region and New York State as a leader in cyber security in the transportation industry. Our history has led us to today, with a strong foundation of creating things, encouraging knowledge, and with an unwavering commitment to community.

“Yesterday we pioneered for today; today, we are pioneering for tomorrow”  -Thomas Watson, Sr.

Posted by Stacey Duncan & Nate Schwartz

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