By Mick Whitt, Manufacturing Business Development Specialist
After spending eighteen years in manufacturing I am aware of the exciting accomplishments and possibilities that exist for companies as they develop new products, new technologies, and new processes that improve production and quality of current product. These types of improvements can lead to greater profits, a better work environment, and of course the potential to reach new and larger markets. However, I am also aware of the challenges and obstacles that many manufacturers face, and the frustration that comes with not being able to find the answers you seek.
To begin to identify the issues and problems of local manufacturers, I invited companies and individuals from a wide range of industries to participate in a Manufacturing Roundtable held at South Centers on March 8, 2016. The idea was to give manufacturers a voice and an open forum to discuss their specific needs and how we might collectively address and solve those needs.
A few of the topics and concerns discussed during the forum were: training (maintenance, soft skills, ISO), workforce availability and development, and current workforce dependability.
With the information and input I received in this roundtable I am currently researching and coordinating with other SBDC offices, as well as partners such as the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG), to develop training events, schedule speakers to address specific topics, and work with local schools to somehow bridge the gap between education and employers.
Going forward we will continue the quarterly roundtable in hopes of engaging even more manufacturers and growing the program to increase the direct impact we can have on companies in our region.