Gov. Deval Patrick gets a tour of the Crane stationery division in North Adams. Timothy Bizony explains the letterpress process to the governor.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Manufacturing's "quiet renaissance" needs to start making more noise, says Gov. Deval Patrick.
Patrick and a host of state officials marked "Manufacturing Day" on Friday with a tour of the region's oldest continuing manufacturer — Crane & Co. — and announced new initiatives to continue the revolution toward advanced manufacturing.
"Because we are making more of the things we invent in the commonwealth, manufacturing is making a comeback," the governor told a crowd of the company's stationery division workers he said were examples of the kinds skilled jobs created by the industry.
Crane stationery is not only surviving in digital world, it has consolidated and expanded its operations in North Adams, said Crane Chief Executive Officer Stephen Defalco, with the purchase of William Arthur Stationery, and now employs more than 250 people.
"We have positioned Crane as a company that integrates best practices, design and engineering to innovate solutions of uncompromising quality," he said. "Our industry is driven by design, cost and customer service. It was clear without a new approach our competitiveness would continue to erode."
More than half the company's revenue now comes from outside the United States, he said. From its "humble beginnings in the Berkshires," the company is now a "fast-moving international force."
The nearly 250-year-old paper company had proven that with the right skills, technology and efficiency, it could become an international player, said Patrick.
"Precision manufacturing has been in the midst, or advanced manufacturing as it's sometimes described, has been in the midst of a quiet renaissance. We think it's time to make that renaissance a whole lot less quiet. "
One way of making some noise is the new partnership between the state's community colleges and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create and implement online training resources. The initiative will expand availibility of advanced manufacturing training to not only Massachusetts students but those far beyond its borders.
"This collaboration expand and enhance our ability to train students from high school through college for advanced manufacturing careers," said Patrick. "This pilot program has the potential to transform how manufacturing education is delivered in the 21st century."
Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy said the governor's support and interest in the role of community colleges made the partnership possible.
"This pilot with eight community colleges collaborating with MIT will serve as a national model, developing online teaching modules to broaden the learning experience for so many of our students," she said. "More opportunity, more jobs and more companies choosing to expand or locate in Massachusetts. That's what this is all about.
I'm a customer. I'm thrilled to be here .. you have cost me a great deal of money.
— Gov. Deval Patrick
"Community colleges are passionate about transforming the commonwealth's work force and the ways we teach and the ways in which students learn."
The state will also host another round of "AMP It Up," the federally funded Advanced Manufacturing Program grants, for high school and community college partnerships. BCC and Taconic High School partnered in the last round with the purchase of high-tech manufacturing equipment at the high school and expanded course offerings.
The governor said the state had to invest in and then build on its platform of education, innovation and infrastructure to compete internationally. Massachusetts has more than 7,500 manufacturing companies employing a quarter-million workers.
While his statement that the average wage was $75,000 evoked laughter from Crane workers ( he joked "it was going to create some problems" for DeFalco), the governor still insisted that manufacturing jobs "are good jobs and good wages for good people. There is a future in manufacturing. It won't be like it used to be but nothing else is either."
Also speaking were Mayor Richard Alcombright, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki, MassDevelopment President Marty Jones and MIT Dean Vijay Kumar. The governor was to hold a closed Cabinet meeting at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, followed by the opening of MCLA's Center for Science and Innovation.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said the morning's events and the MCLA ribbon cutting "highlight was it is best in the Berkshires, what is best in Massachusetts."
"We know, as the governor rightly said, that tomorrow won't be like yesterday but we also know that we are not powerless to shape what tomorrow will look like ... we know that if we make those investments we can create opportunity."