TRENTON -- Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera and Wayne DeAngelo to help bring advanced manufacturing to the next level in New Jersey was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thurs.
The bill (A-3026) would create the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Council to convene and enable industry-led, private-public partnerships focused on engaging New Jersey institutions of higher education in manufacturing innovation.
“While traditional manufacturing has been on the decline in New Jersey since the 1960’s, advanced manufacturing is an emerging industry with enormous potential,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This council would bring together experts from the public and private sector to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are trained to excel in these fields.”
“New Jersey has a number of unique characteristics – a central geographic location, thriving ports and transportation centers and an educated workforce – that can be utilized to encourage and energize the advanced manufacturing industry in our state,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “But to do that, we need to have a workforce prepared to enter this industry.”
Advanced manufacturing is primarily composed of four groups: chemical manufacturing, computer and electronic product manufacturing, machinery manufacturing and transportation equipment manufacturing.
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology defines advanced manufacturing as a “family of activities that (a) depend on the use and coordination of information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking, and/or (b) make use of cutting edge materials and emerging capabilities enabled by the physical and biological sciences, for example nanotechnology, chemistry, and biology. It involves both new ways to manufacture existing products, and the manufacture of new products emerging from new advanced technologies.”
“The right training programs at the higher education level will help provide a stable workforce for manufacturers and help this vital industry grow and prosper in New Jersey,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Ultimately, the goal is to create well-paying, stable jobs for our future.”
“Our once-rich history of manufacturing has declined steadily over the last 60 years,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This council will be tasked with ensuring that our higher education system is equipped to cultivate the labor force necessary to help the second wave of manufacturing thrive in our state.”
The sponsors noted that advanced manufacturing contributed more than $17 billion to New Jersey’s Gross Domestic Product in 2009, or about 3.6 percent of all state output, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
“The advanced manufacturing industry has been an integral part New Jersey’s economic recovery,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “However, given the fact that our recovery has been far more sluggish than neighboring states, we need to do more to help reinvigorate our economy for the long-haul.”
“In order to facilitate the growth of advanced manufacturing in New Jersey, we need a coalition of business, education and labor experts to coordinate the development of technologically advanced training programs and courses within our education system,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic).
“Manufacturing production in New Jersey is far smaller of an industry than it should be in comparison to our economy and the resources we have to reach markets through our ports and roads,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We need this council to serve as a conduit to reinvigorate manufacturing in order to create blue collar jobs and grow the economy.”
Under the bill, the council would also be tasked with:
1) designing and implementing an advanced manufacturing initiative to facilitate collaboration and information sharing across state departments and agencies;
2) assisting private companies to enhance technological transfer in New Jersey manufacturing industries to help companies overcome technical obstacles to scaling up production of new technologies; and
3) submitting an annual report to the governor, the legislature, and the State Employment and Training Commission of its assessments and recommendations to enhance state policy related to the advanced manufacturing industry in New Jersey.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Commerce Committee.