On October 3rd, Benton Harbor and Bridge Academy Michigan JAG students took part in Kinexus’ second annual Manufacturing Day. The day included tours of Mach Mold and Gaishin Manufacturing. The students also spent over an hour talking to exhibitors, which included manufacturers and educators, as well as career and technical education students, about careers in manufacturing. The event hosted more than 600 people and included two state representatives, two state senators, and Congressman Fred Upton.
Eighteen organizations including manufacturing firms and educational units, hosted the students, members of the business community, local political leaders and others by putting on a mini-trade show at Mach Mold, the key host firm for the event. Manufacturing Day was established to share with students, teachers, parents, legislators and the community at large the importance of maintaining the manufacturing jobs in Michigan communities and the increase in the workforce being attracted to the solid pay and high-tech nature of these jobs.
Manufacturing is at the very core of the region in Michigan with 455 manufacturing businesses located in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. The firms are directly responsible for 16,858 manufacturing jobs and for every ten jobs created in the manufacturing industry, 13 more are created in additional industries across the region. This basically means that one in every five jobs in the tri-county region is a manufacturing job.
The average earnings for those working in manufacturing in the tri-county area are $82,926 per year, $6,500 higher than the average manufacturing job in America.
The students toured the three host manufacturing plants, and talked with crews from industry, and with representatives from higher education to gather more information from manufacturing advocates in attendance including Congressman Fred Upton, State Senators John Proos and Tonya Schuitmaker, and State Representatives Al Pscholka and Aric Nesbitt.
This was Southwest Michigan’s second annual Manufacturing Day and hundreds of area students and community members attended the event. In recognition of America’s manufacturing industry, more than 1,500 similar events were held across the country.
United States Representative Fred Upton, spoke with the exhibitors and students in the morning and as part of the visit, Upton joined a roundtable discussion with business owners, community leaders, and elected officials, and shared his bipartisan efforts to bring greater stability to Michigan’s economy and accelerate job creation and economic growth especially in manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy here in Southwest Michigan – we need to give these local businesses, large and small, the certainty they need to continue to innovate, grow their operations, and create jobs,” said Upton.
“We have made impressive progress toward strengthening our manufacturing dominance in recent years, but we can do better with the right policies. As we stand at the verge of a manufacturing renaissance, it is more important now than ever that we construct a regulatory framework that allows our manufacturers to thrive,” continued Upton, who serves as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Today’s event was organized by Benton Harbor nonprofit Kinexus, which is focuses on community and workforce development in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties.
“Manufacturing Day brings together manufactures and educators to inspire tomorrow's talent and ensure the industry remains a driving force for Southwest Michigan's economy,” said Todd Gustafson, Kinexus executive director.
- The three-county region is home to more than 450 manufacturing businesses, which account for nearly 17,000 manufacturing jobs in Southwest Michigan, according to the economic modeling software firm Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI).