Manufacturing Roundtable at Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

WELCOME. My name is Jeffrey Roy, State Representative from Franklin, and co-chair of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Caucus. It is great to see so many of you here today to support manufacturing in Massachusetts.

Let me begin by thanking Tim Murray and the Worcester Chamber of Commerce for putting this event together today to highlight and promote making it in Massachusetts.

The legislature is engaged in a public/private partnership with each of you to strengthen our economy and join with you to welcome a new age or Renaissance in manufacturing here in Massachusetts.

Why manufacturing?

Manufacturing provides pathways to economic prosperity for residents of varied educational levels.

Massachusetts’ strong regional manufacturing clusters help anchor regional economies, especially outside the Boston core.

Manufacturing is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced and emerging technologies – a trend that plays to the Commonwealth’s strengths.

Local manufacturing capacity helps Massachusetts innovators bring new products to market more quickly, and helps innovative companies grow to scale in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts has a great ecosystem for manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Caucus was formed in 2014 and consists of 60 members of the House and Senate and serves as a link for issues that affect the manufacturing industry. We came together to address problems faced by the Commonwealth’s manufacturing industry in filling technically demanding jobs with people who have the right skills.

As lawmakers, we focus on training for manufacturing employees, encouraging innovation by helping start-ups access resources, and expanding apprenticeship opportunities, among other things. We set policies and allocate budget dollars to bolster the economy, and again, build upon the renaissance of manufacturing here.
We formed an Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative to formulate a strategic plan that would enable Massachusetts to become the number one manufacturing state in the country.

Our mission is to be the most complete, connected, and fastest ecosystem for applying advanced technology to commercialize products from innovation through production.

And it’s working because we have a legislature and a Governor working together with each of you to make it happen.

And it is working.

Here are some of the things we know about the industry:

During the next decade, baby boomer retirements and economic expansion will lead to nearly three-and-a-half million job openings in manufacturing. Manufacturers will struggle to find highly specialized scientists and design engineers.

Manufacturers are faced with overcoming a negative image of the industry among young people. While most Americans consider manufacturing one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong national economy, they rank it low as a career choice for themselves.

80% of manufacturing executives report they are willing to pay more than market rates in areas reeling from a talent shortage. Executives report it takes an average of 94 days to recruit employees in the engineering/research/scientific fields and an average of 70 days to recruit skilled production workers.

Facing these timeframes for recruiting, it is no surprise manufacturers report the most significant business impact of the talent shortage is their ability to meet customer demand.

Members of the Caucus know that manufacturers can’t solve all of their talent challenges on their own. To address these needs we are fostering collaboration between manufacturers, community colleges, technical high schools and regional workforce boards in order to create regionally-specific talent pipelines.

We are aligning education programs, the state workforce system and economic development to meet employers’ needs for workers in each region of the state.

We had a busy Manufacturing Month, and for me that meant visits to factories in Gardner, Fall River, Franklin, Stoughton, Hopkinton, and Southborough.

Over the past four years, we have hosted and participated in a number of manufacturing roundtables across the state. We have successfully advocated for Manufacturing education in our vocational schools, colleges, and universities. Blacktone Valley RVTHS is one of the leaders in these efforts. Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School, located in Franklin (the community I am honored to represent), has brought back its manufacturing program and developed a curriculum and relationship with Wentworth Institute of Technology. As a direct result, local students, continuing education students, and many others are benefiting from this education and getting d Manufacturing jobs right here in Massachusetts.

The folks at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (under the leadership of Jay Ash), Mass Development, the Workforce Training Fund, the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, the UMass Innovation Center, Mas Tech, and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), and many of you, as leaders of our great Massachusetts companies, have been furthering the policies developed to address the industry and Commonwealth needs, and boost the Massachusetts economy in the process.

We have created a MA Manufacturing website:

Whether accessing critical resources, fostering collaboration, or finding qualified workers, you won’t find a more supportive environment to grow your business than in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth provides the resources manufacturers need to access creative financing solutions, save on energy costs, attract qualified workers, and take their businesses to the next level.

And you can find all these resources on the website.

We had our 2nd Annual Manufacturing award ceremony at the State House recognizing 53 manufacturers. It was great to see the innovative and revolutionary manufacturing capabilities and products that are being produced throughout this Commonwealth. And we’re going to continue on this path of prosperity and make this state #1 in the nation.

Here are some other things we have also been working on:

The Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) is a substantial, nationally-leading commitment by the State Legislature to develop the Manufacturing USA infrastructure within the state.

We have committed over $100M to capital grants for projects. This provides a vehicle for the Commonwealth to invest in the Manufacturing USA program and advance innovation and job growth through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic/training institutions.

If we look at our nation’s history, times of big growth have always been fueled by manufacturing revolutions. Look at the steam engine in the middle of the 19th century, the mass-production model in the beginning of the 20th century, and the first automation wave in the 1970s. Those resulted in tremendous growth. Fifty years later, we are on the verge of another huge change, and once again, manufacturing is leading the way.

We are seeing manufacturing converge with large technological innovation. And harnessing these technologies in the manufacturing space is the next revolution that will boost industrial productivity and create growth. And Massachusetts can lead the way.

Manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy. It is the sixth largest employment sector here. According to the recently launched Manufacturing in Massachusetts website (, 10.1% of the Commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing and $26 billion in manufactured goods were exported from the Commonwealth in 2016 alone. Roughly 250,000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8% of the total workforce in the state.

Thank you for the opportunity to join you today. I’ll leave you with a little homework — something for your summer reading list.

Joshua Freeman has written a book called Behometh, which tells the history of large factories, which is, in turn, the history of the modern world and most everything we see, experience and touch.

Freeman tells the story of the factory and examines how it has reflected both our dreams and our nightmares of industrialization and social change.

He also explores how factories became objects of great wonder that both inspired and horrified artists and writers in their time.

Together we are writing the next chapter in manufacturing history, and I am happy to be able to join you on this journey.