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'Manufacturing is back' at MassMEP symposium

10/5/2018
Photo | Zachary Comeau
Photo | Zachary Comeau
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito speaks at a MassMEP event Thursday.

According to John Killam, the state’s manufacturing industry is as robust as ever.
Killam, executive director of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), spoke to a crowd of hundreds gathered at the DCU Center Thursday at the Future of Manufacturing Symposium. 
The event included workshops and panel discussions on a variety of issues including biopharmaceutical manufacturing, robotics, cybersecurity regulations and other topics. 
According to Killam, the state’s manufacturing industry reported an output of almost $50 billion in 2017, representing about 10 percent of the state’s output.
There are over 7,000 manufacturing companies in the state and over 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the state, Killam added. 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts have not reached 250,000 since 2013. The latest final figures from the bureau show 249,100 manufacturing jobs in the state in July 2018.
Regardless, Killam said the industry has weathered the storm of offshoring production and cheap foreign labor.
“Led by innovation and technology, manufacturing is back,” he said. 
The event also included speeches from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and a representative of the U.S. Department of Defense. 
Polito commented on the rich history of manufacturing in Massachusetts, which created dozens of mill towns in Central Massachusetts communities that became the hub of the economy in the early and mid-1900s.
Many of them have been vacated, but many of them have also been repurposed.
“Our gateway cities have turned into innovation hubs,” she said. 
To continue that innovation and to help further close the skills gap, Polito announced more than $6.3 million in matching grants awarded to 73 Massachusetts unnamed companies to train more than 4,000 workers. 
“Our people and talent pipeline are our biggest asset,” she said.