It could be helping manufacturers refit their plants to help them continue working, but under conditions that meet CDC guidelines. Or helping manufacturers created new products — ones needed during the COVID-19 pandemic — and connect them to organizations looking to buy them. It could even be a review of work processes, helping manufacturers streamline their operations.
All this and more added up to more than $345 million of economic impact that has been created and provided by New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program in the first six months of 2020.
The total is more than NJMEP had ever been responsible for during an entire year.
The best part — according to MEP head John Kennedy — the numbers were reported by the manufacturers themselves. This is the value they placed on the assistance and guidance MEP provided.
Through a third-party survey firm, clients quantify the impact NJMEP’s services have had on their companies. These services include assistance and implementation projects where the client realizes significant operational improvements and increases in production capacity, sales opportunity, cost avoidance and investment opportunities, Kennedy said. Because of it, he said, both client satisfaction and impact measurement are essential and critical elements of all MEP projects.
Kennedy was thrilled the number was so high, but mostly grateful that his organization is doing what it does so well — providing guidance to the manufacturing sector in New Jersey. And doing so at a time when it has never been so important.
“It’s a huge number,” he told ROI-NJ. “It lets us know we are having an impact and it measures it in so many ways. It could have been increased sales. It could have been cost savings. We’re doing a lot of Lean Six Sigma programs, because manufacturers had to redo their processes to be compliant with CDC standards. Maybe we helped change the flow of the plant or made it so the company didn’t have to have a second shift.
“We’re most proud of helping these companies find new business — become a new part of a supply chain — because many states around us, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, shut down.”
Here’s the breakdown. Over the first 6 months of 2020, manufacturers reported:
- $245 million in new and retained sales;
- $29 million in process savings;
- $70 million in capital improvements and investments.
All of this helped lead up to the most important number of all — more than 2,100 new and retained jobs.
The 12-month average impact for NJMEP between 2000-2019 was approximately $200 million with more than 1,750 new and retained jobs.
Those annual metrics have helped NJMEP score in the Top 3 (out of 51 MEP centers) in the country over the past 20 years.
As much as Kennedy enjoys seeing the numbers, he wants to see even greater improvement.
“We can help manufacturers identify growth opportunities, upgrade critical employee skills, improve production efficiencies, cut energy costs, improve supply chain performance and enhance customer satisfaction,” he said.
NJMEP said the numbers show that, when it has worked with clients in the first half of 2020, it brought a return on investment of 30:1.
This numbers are reported up to the national office, NIST MEP, showing the impact each center is having.
But they do more than that, Kennedy said. For, as good as NJMEP’s numbers were, Kennedy said they show areas where it can do better. He welcomes that.
“A lot of centers get scared of these things,” he said. “To me, it’s important. This is a scorecard that shows us how we have helped and how we have failed our clients. That’s great to see.”
Kennedy also said it’s great to see the sector gets its due during the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, NJMEP has continued to work very closely with thousands of manufacturers and the Legislative Bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus to support these businesses through this unprecedented time and ensure they can recover and continue to thrive in the post-COVID business environment,” he said. “All New Jersey manufacturers are essential. The employees are unsung heroes. And manufacturing will continue to push the state and nation forward.”