Opinion

Editorial

Showcasing Local Manufacturing Might

Details are still falling into place, but a planned conference to showcase the region’s manufacturing sector and resources that support it appears to be exactly what this region — and this all-important sector of the Knowledge Corridor’s economy — needs.
It’s called AMICCON, or the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competition & Conference, and it is being designed as both a showcase of the region’s manufacturing might and diversity, and also a vehicle for possibly generating more business and economic development in the region.
Conference creators, or founders, including several area manufacturing executives, banking and finance leaders, and economic-development officials, say many manufacturers and supply-chain members in this region are simply not aware of all that is produced in the Springfield-Hartford corridor. As a result, companies are looking to makers in other time zones — and on other continents — to supply items that could supplied by companies in their own backyard.
But there is much more to this conference, planned for Sept. 23, than simply meeting and greeting, although that is certainly important. Indeed, the event is being crafted — as we said, it is still very much a work in progress — to not only spotlight manufacturers, but introduce them to innovators, venture capitalists, and support organizations that can make them more competitive globally.
In other words, this conference and continuum is about making important connections — with potential new customers, new markets, and new partners.
For example, the program is slated to include two programs to be staged by the Mass. Export Center, one an experts panel that will discuss a variety of issues, and the second a seminar called “International Traffic in Arms Regulations for Defense and Aerospace Export.” Together, they will help manufacturers understand the many nuances of exporting and grasp the many growth opportunities represented by selling products overseas.
There will be other educational programs that will make the day eventful and enlightening, but organizers don’t want this to be about one day.
Instead, they want to incorporate ongoing programs that would create a continual spotlight on the manufacturing sector and a year-round focus on ways to bolster that important economic engine. Thus, the word ‘continuum’ is part of the program and its acronym.
A key component of that continuum will be something called the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Competition (AMIC), which, as the name suggests, is designed to not simply showcase talented precision manufacturing, but promote innovation that may lead to the kind of new-product development that gave the Springfield area its heritage.
When many people think of the term ‘economic development,’ thoughts turn to efforts to bring new companies and new jobs to a region. And while that is a big part of that equation, it is just a part. Another huge part is work to help existing companies to not simply stay in business and remain in the 413 area code, but grow their books of business and their workforces.
The manufacturing sector, specifically the precision-manufacturing component, has long been this region’s identity. The best days for that industry have long since past, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a bright future.
The AMICCON conference and continuum should go a long way toward putting that sector not simply in the spotlight, but in a better position to achieve long-term health and vitality.

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