N.J. is 1 of 4 areas picked to join Policy Academy — program aimed at strengthening manufacturing

Gov. Phil Murphy has made creating an innovation economy a top priority in his administration.

The state is now slated to get some help in doing so — specifically, in the manufacturing sector.

New Jersey was one of four areas selected to participate in the Policy Academy on Strengthening Your State’s Manufacturers, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced Thursday.

The program is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership and organized by the State Science & Technology Institute in Ohio and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness.

Policy Academy officials said the program was created to help states identify best practices, partnerships and policies to help them strengthen the manufacturing industry in their communities. It will offer New Jersey peer-to-peer learning opportunities, webinars, visits by a lead technical expert and experience facilitator, and one-one-one meetings with Policy Academy instructors.

According to the Policy Academy, participation should help the state identify implementable actions for the manufacturing community that will ensure the state is well-positioned to capture 21st century manufacturing jobs and growth.

Kentucky, Utah and Puerto Rico also were selected to be a part of the Policy Academy.

Tim Sullivan, CEO of the EDA, said the program will help New Jersey get closer to Murphy’s goals.

“New Jersey’s selection into the Policy Academy reaffirms Gov. Murphy’s proactive approach to reclaiming the state’s role as a leader in innovation and manufacturing,” he said in a statement.

“We are confident that SSTI’s programming and expertise will help us build actionable plans that effectively support this crucial sector as part of the governor’s larger goal to strengthen our state’s economy.”

SSTI CEO and President Dan Berglund said having New Jersey as part of the program makes sense because of its long history of research and development.

“For more than 20 years, we’ve helped develop and implement initiatives that support prosperity through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said in a statement. “We’re excited to launch this new academy and have included New Jersey based on the critical role manufacturing plays in its economy and its forward-thinking vision for the industry’s future.”

The EDA, which submitted the application in partnership with the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, will spearhead the state’s delegation to the academy.

Brian Sabina, senior vice president of the new Office of Economic Transformation within the EDA, will lead New Jersey’s 15-person delegation, which will include senior government and private sector officials, academics and industry group leaders.

“Advanced manufacturing has been identified by the governor and OET as one of several sectors that will be pivotal in fortifying the state’s long-term competitiveness,” Sabina said. “We are confident that our work with the SSTI and the NJMEP will fuel meaningful policy that will serve as a foundation for a viable long-term strategy for economic development.”

Sabina expects that lessons learned through the yearlong Policy Academy will not only strengthen the state’s manufacturing economy, but also promote long-term benefits to the entire state, including reduced unemployment, increased private sector investment, and a more diverse and knowledgeable workforce.

John Kennedy, the CEO of NJMEP, said the program is another step to strengthening manufacturing in the state.

“NJMEP and its industry partners are very excited about this next logical step being taken by our state in regard to this National Policy Academy,” he said. “Coupled with the year-old New Jersey Legislative Bi-Partisan Manufacturing Caucus, this teaming is unprecedented in my more than 30 years in the manufacturing and engineering sectors in New Jersey.

“Now, we are adding applicable and viable tools that did not exist in the past.”

New Jersey has more than 11,000 small and large manufacturing firms, currently employing more than 375,000, with an emphasis on technologically-advanced manufacturing processes across industries.

In total, New Jersey’s manufacturing sector is worth $44.52 billion in output and represents 7.8 percent of the State’s gross domestic product.

Since January, the Murphy administration has taken the following steps to increase support of its manufacturing sector:

  • Created a Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council to provide the Governor’s Office with economic advice for stimulating job growth and workforce development in the state;
  • Launched the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network to bolster on-the-job training in advanced manufacturing, clean energy and other high growth sectors and strengthen the connections between our education and workforce systems;
  • Made important investments in critical transit and intercity rail infrastructure that are essential to the manufacturing sector in New Jersey and the nation;
  • Ordered the development of a new energy master plan to create a roadmap to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, ensure a modern, affordable and reliable energy system, and attract clean energy supply chain companies.