NJMEP, NJBIA forming Manufacturing Counts partnership

Groups hope to strengthen support for manufacturing firms among elected officials, business leaders

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association have entered into a formal agreement to create Manufacturing Counts, a partnership intended to unite, broaden and strengthen the support of manufacturing businesses throughout the state, the groups announced Wednesday.

Under the partnership, NJBIA (the largest statewide employer association in the nation) and NJMEP (the foremost provider of resources, programs and information for New Jersey manufacturers) will coordinate efforts and resources to bolster advocacy, collaboration and visibility for the industry.

The Manufacturing Counts announcement precedes the first Legislative Manufacturing Caucus meeting of 2022, which takes place Feb. 24 at Source Brewing in Colts Neck.

“As NJBIA’s manufacturing roots go back more than a century, and the industry faces continuing workforce challenges and costly burdens, we look forward to productively build off of this partnership with NJMEP,” NJBIA CEO Michele Siekerka said. “By aligning our dedicated and collective efforts, we can fulfill our joint mission to truly strengthen and grow our manufacturing industry, which is so essential to New Jersey’s economy.”

NJMEP CEO John Kennedy agreed.

“When one considers the overall positive financial and employee impacts that 11,000-plus firms in manufacturing, STEM and transportation & logistics make in our state, it is obvious that partnering and teamwork are the best available options to support these sectors,” he said.

“Since I started at NJMEP 10 years ago, NJBIA has always been a strong partner. And, as we progress forward, it made the best sense to work closer together in a more structured capacity. Exciting times.”

The Manufacturing Counts partnership will see both organizations embark on an engagement campaign of New Jersey manufacturers for the purposes of building a stronger grassroots network, utilizing government affairs events and other networking events from both groups.

This will include opportunities for the sharing of peer-to-peer best practices, and additional surveying and research to bring a deeper understanding of the needs and concerns of manufacturers.

As part of the partnership, officials at NJBIA and NJMEP hope they will be able to advance a timely, relevant and specific agenda, with prioritized actions items, for the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, the full Legislature and Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration.

“We know that New Jersey manufacturers need improved workforce development, support for the innovation ecosystem, a reduction in mounting burdensome regulations and protections from liability,” NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said.

“Through this collaborative process, we can fine-tune and address those needs through legislation and communication with our policymakers.”

Further, the Manufacturing Counts partnership will seek input from a broader coalition of business, industry and nonprofit groups to provide support for the collective work. This will include a communications campaign to increase awareness of manufacturing careers.

“This partnership is a tremendous opportunity for both NJBIA and NJMEP; however, the entire industry stands to gain,” NJMEP Senior Director of Business Development Sally White said. “When we combine our expertise and networks through this collaborative relationship, we provide more opportunities for local businesses and amplify their voice.”