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Plan Released for Merrimack Valley Manufacturing Growth

A strategic plan for growing the manufacturing base of the Merrimack Valley calls for increased collaboration among industry, education and workforce agencies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Leaders from both states recently unveiled the “Merrimack Valley Regional Innovation Grant” plan, the result of a $250,000 federal grant that surveyed the needs of manufacturing companies in the two-state region.

merrimack-valley-rig“The Merrimack Valley has 90,000 advanced manufacturing jobs, split equally between New Hampshire and Massachusetts, representing 18 percent of the region’s total employment and nearly 60 percent of the region’s gross domestic product,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Roy Duddy. “It’s vitally important to both states that we address the challenges and opportunities in manufacturing from a regional viewpoint.”

Duddy said manufacturers were surveyed and follow-up interviews were conducted to determine what measures are needed to prepare workers for success in the highly competitive advanced manufacturing environment.

“We know that advanced manufacturing in areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics and biometrics can produce good paying jobs in homeland security, medical equipment manufacturing, clean energy, aerospace and other areas of growth,” he said. “Advanced manufacturing requires workers skills with computers, the ability to read and translate diagrams and flow charts, and the ability to work in teams. We should align our educational and workforce training programs to meet these needs.”

The grant partners included workforce development agencies in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire’s Office of Workforce Opportunity.

The strategic plan also calls for increased coordination in responding to layoffs and closures to get workers re-employed, new and innovative approaches to training incumbent and dislocated workers, and increased participation by career technical schools, community colleges and other educational facilities.

The Merrimack Valley Manufacturing Advocacy Collaborative, a group of manufacturing employers in the region, has been formed to engage stakeholders, including public and private companies and institutions.

A new web site, www.mvrig.org has been launched to coordinate and distribute data and ideas for sustaining and growing the manufacturing sector in Merrimack Valley.

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