Manufacturing Roundtable Informs Legislators of Program & Policy Priorities for Growth

On February 1, 2022, Eric Joseph Esoda, President & CEO of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC), hosted a manufacturing roundtable for a joint meeting of the PA House Democratic Policy Committee and the PA House Manufacturing Caucus in State College, PA. The roundtable consisted of 10 manufacturing executives from across Pennsylvania, including leaders within Metal Integrity East & West, Restek Corporation, Diamondback Covers, Lake Erie Rubber & Manufacturing, GeorgeKo Industries, ILSCO Extrusion, The Fredericks Company, C.L. Sturkey, Inc. and Lehigh Valley Plastics.

The roundtable was requested by Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, Chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee, and Rep. Mike Schlossberg, Chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus. “Manufacturing in Pennsylvania is important to our caucus because Pennsylvania is a place where businesses want to come and stay,” said Rep. Bizzarro. “We want to hear from manufacturers on what they need to make Pennsylvania more attractive for businesses,” he added.

Within the 90-minute roundtable, which consisted of live participation and virtual attendees, manufacturers expressed their greatest challenges, barriers, opportunities and advantages relative to workforce attraction and retention, the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and the mitigation of supply chain risks through reshoring and creating PA-based supplier networks. The participating manufacturers also offered suggestions and ideas as to what programs, policies and statewide initiatives should be created or expanded in order to accelerate their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and maximize their long-term growth and competitiveness. Increased funding for the statewide Industrial Resource Center program, creating more in-school awareness about careers in manufacturing, streamlining loan and grant processing and providing incentives to create Pennsylvania-based supply chains were among their recommendations.

The roundtable was facilitated by the Industrial Resource Center (IRC) network and moderated by an IRC host due to the Centers’ close connectivity to Pennsylvania’s manufacturing community and insight into the needs of the Commonwealth’s 15,000+ small and mid-sized manufacturers. “The importance of our manufacturing economy is a unifying topic that reaches across both aisles in Harrisburg – everyone agrees that we need to do all we can to strengthen and grow the Commonwealth’s second largest business sector with more than 585,000 employees,” said Mr. Esoda, who guided the event. “We were honored to put this venue together for the Committee and Caucus and hope we have the opportunity to host many additional events of this nature for our legislative leaders and policy-makers,” he added.

The IRC network is currently working with the PA Democratic Policy Committee to compile video highlights and a transcript of the event.