Stand with me to support manufacturing in New Jersey

Op-Ed

By John W. Kennedy, CEO, New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program
New Jersey | Oct 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

My mom was one of the smartest, most common-sensible people I have ever known. And while her words seemed simple, the reasoning behind them was not. One such statement was, “If you believe strongly enough in a stance, you need to be willing to be the only one standing in support of it.”

It’s not an easy approach, but one that I have taken several times in my life, and have passed along to many. It tends to be the most solitary place, even in a crowd, but if you’re not ready to take such a stance, then maybe you’re not really sold on the principle.

I wondered if this is what drove Colin Kaepernick to take a knee when the national anthem was played at games. While I do not support this particular approach, I do believe in his rights to free speech, expression and to peacefully protest. Many eventually joined him. But, like so many things today, the focus got diverted and the argument now is about those that will stand and respect the flag, and those that do not.

The original issue is lost now.

That brings me to the current situation in New Jersey, as we do not debate, but we look to demonize and destroy as we “root for our team” to win. Unfortunately, at the crux are citizens and businesses left to stand alone.

As an engineer and businessman, this makes no sense to me. To stop the outmigration of people and firms, we need to provide the pathways and opportunities for success. That will not happen in the current climate.

My role at the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program is to support all 10,552 manufacturers (including life sciences) and their 360,000 employees in our state. I grew up in the manufacturing/STEM industry, and it provided well for me, my family and for those many people who worked with me. This industry creates the pathway to a career that allows one to grow and to earn. It is also one that has been forgotten in New Jersey and the U.S. for all too long.

The newly formed N.J. Legislative Caucus for Manufacturing, led by State Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), will bring an interest and a platform that has not existed for many years.

The manufacturing caucus is tasked with developing legislation and strategies to make New Jersey more competitive for manufacturers. The work of the caucus will lead to policies that will grow the manufacturing sector. Let’s not lose this focus. We need it in New Jersey.

Who will stand with me?

Conversation Starter
Reach John at jkennedy@njmep.org or 973-998-9801.