What’s new in Massachusetts manufacturing and technology

Gavin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Inc.

Manufacturing (which represents about one-third of our client base) is a growing and vital industry within the Commonwealth.  Some relevant statistics1:

  • There are over 6,500 manufacturers in Massachusetts
  • They provided more than 248,000 jobs in 2014; about 7% of the workforce
  • The average manufacturing-employee compensation was $93,682 in 2013
  • Over $45b in manufactured goods were sold nationally and worldwide in 2013, which accounts for over 10% of the state’s economy
  • 40% of Mass. manufacturers report difficulty finding skilled craftsmen

According to the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, a sub-group of MassTech (Massachusetts Technology Collaborative) launched in 2011, manufacturing is a “…cross-cutting sector that touches essentially every region and every industry of the state’s innovation economy and which provided good paying jobs to citizens of every skill and ability…”.1  Because engineering and technology tend to associate closely with manufacturing, it is attracting attention within both state and local governments as well as educational facilities at the high school and college levels; the priority is to invest in training future employees, while removing the outdated stigma that manufacturing jobs are dirty and underpaid.

MassTech based the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative on a 2008 study2 that focused on manufacturing health in Massachusetts, followed by a second study3 from the same team in 2012.  The focus areas brought forth from these studies:

  • Promoting the image of manufacturing
  • Education and workforce development
  • Technical assistance and innovation
  • Access to capital

Related programs include:

  • Technology & Market Acceleration:
    • Technology Acceleration Program – Grow and succeed with invention, innovation, and commercialization endeavors
    • Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI) – Focus on the market benefits a technology enables in a product
    • Technology Scouting – Search outside of normal channels for an unmet technology need
  • Workforce training grants:
    • The Express Program – Up to $3,000/employee, but restricted to companies with under 100 employees
    • The General Program – Grants up to $250,000
  • On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Apprenticeships:
    • Train Employees – Reliable OJT and apprenticeships
    • Aging Workforce – Prevent brain drain due to retirement
    • Recruiting the Right People – Core skills training
  • Working Capital Loan Guarantees – Guaranty product by MassDevelopment to guarantee up to 25% of working-capital loans for manufacturers
  • Massachusetts Manufacturing Month 20164 (October) event categories:
    • Education – Prepare/motivate people to pursue manufacturing careers
    • Innovation – Solve difficult problems and pave the way for the future
    • Products – Highlight amazing products manufactured in Massachusetts
    • Sustainability – Promote incorporation of green/sustainable processes
    • Workforce and Jobs – Spotlight training and career paths

Additional state-wide organizations and their missions:

  • AMPItUp! (Advanced Manufacturing Program) – Amping up students for an amazing future in manufacturing.
  • Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) – Largest employer association (4,500 members) within Massachusetts that addresses manufacturer’s (1/3 of membership) and employer’s concerns; they advocate for their members.
  • MakerSpaces – Evolving hotbeds of innovation where woodworkers, robotics engineers, machinists, etc. can participate or rent incubator space.
  • MassMEP (Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership) – The expert resource committed to manufacturing growth in Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative – An innovative public agency working to support a vibrant, growing economy across Massachusetts.



Finally, a look in a classroom at the new Manufacturing Advancement Center at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA; the center, funded by a $2M grant in 2014, opened to students this week.

1Massachusetts Manufacturing Facts from the National Association of Manufacturers.

2Please see Staying Power – The Future of Manufacturing in Massachusetts by the Center for Urban and Regional Policy, School of Social Science, Urban Affairs, and Public Policy, Northeastern University.

3Please see Staying Power II – A Report Card on Manufacturing in Massachusetts 2012 by the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

4Please see Massachusetts Manufacturing Month 2016 from AMPitup!.