By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Marlborough – Over 100 business leaders and local and state officials gathered at The Campus at Marlborough Oct. 25 for the 2013 Marlborough Innovation Summit. The focus of the event, titled “Resources for Keeping Your Gears in Motion,” was to discuss the issue of manufacturing and how the state can better position itself to attract more funding and qualified employees to this sector.
The summit was the fourth annual event organized by the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and co-sponsored by law firm Mirick O”Connell.
After the opening remarks, including ones by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), State Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D- Marlborough), and Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant, a panel discussed the challenges the state faces and initiatives that are in place to help expand the field. All noted that even though manufacturing has changed dramatically over the decades, there is still a need for it in the current economy, especially in the high-tech and life science fields.
Mike Prior is the director of Business Development/NGM Programs, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).
There is currently a talent deficiency, he said, which will only increase as the baby boom generation starts retiring. As such, the state needs to increase its partnership with vocational high schools and community colleges to help students learn the critical skills that will be needed for jobs in manufacturing.
Louis Gaviglia, who serves as vice president of Manufacturing Program Initiatives, MassDevelopment, agreed with Prior.
“We need to do a better job of promoting manufacturing here in the commonwealth,” he said.
He added that there are many finance programs and real estate development services available through MassDevelopment.
“I encourage companies to go to our website (www.massdevelopment) and see what is available,” he said.
Douglas Kehlhem is the senior director at MassEcon, the state's private sector partner in promoting Massachusetts as the premier location for business growth. He noted that the agency has created the “ReadyMass100,” a list of the top 100 business properties in the state. Those sites have been evaluated by a team of real estate experts and have been certified as ready for immediate occupancy or development.
The keynote speech at the event was given by Greg Bialecki, the Massachusetts secretary of housing and economic development. He highlighted three areas he said are critical if the state is to have long-term success in manufacturing: housing, transportation and advanced manufacturing.
“We need to work on ways to continue to have things manufactured here,” he said. “We need to make the state not only a place to come up with a great idea, but also a place to implement them.”
“The old definition of manufacturing is “making stuff,”” he added. “The new definition is “fulfillment of an idea.””
The Mirick O”Connell Innovation Award, which recognizes pioneering Marlborough-based companies, was also presented to Qualtré and VCE at the summit.