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National Manufacturing Week Spotlight

October 9, 2020 / Blog

Topic: How Top Executives Know Where Advanced Manufacturing Facilities Should Be Located

It’s National Manufacturing Week and October is National Manufacturing Month! This week, Virginia’s Gateway Region (VGR) is explaining how top executives at advanced manufacturing companies and their site selection consultants decide where their facilities should be located.

Additionally, we are outlining why the Gateway Region is an ideal hub for this very specific industry sector and why it’s continuing to grow here.

As location needs are changing, advanced manufacturing site-selection teams use numerous tactics when assessing a region:
  • A very important method they utilize is to study an area’s laborshed based on its job skills. They do this to avoid omitting potentially qualified applicants working in different occupations with relevant skills that are cross-trainable, as opposed to only evaluating the workforce’s total number of occupations in the sector.
  • Next, in order for a company to be able to ensure the region is producing a sustainable pipeline of quality talent that is trained in the skills relevant to their industry, it’s becoming more important that they examine the whole picture of the area’s formal education programs and training pathways which exist in its market.
  • Increasingly, it is becoming more important to top executives in this sector that their site-selection teams spend the time to actually visit each finalist region and collect data empirically to get a better grasp of any subtle differences of local labor markets, manufacturing clusters and supply chains. This is because there are many factors critical for advanced manufacturing locations which are changing at a rapid pace and tougher to spot than using computer data alone. Furthermore, due to COVID-19 and the need to take health precautions, the site visit portion can be done virtually.
  • These teams also analyze the competitive landscape and are looking for markets that have a firm manufacturing ecosystem and the right mix of supply chain providers.
  • Lastly, they look at market longevity by conducting tests of all finalist markets through the use of statistical forecasting so they can compare their abilities to accommodate a continuous scaling of the qualified workforce.
Why is the Gateway Region an Ideal Manufacturing Hub?
VGR’s President & CEO Keith Boswell tours AMPAC Fine Chemicals in the City of Petersburg, where pharmaceuticals will be manufactured following a 2020 partnership announcement between AMPAC and Phlow Corporation. (Photo Credit/AMPAC FINE CHEMICALS, CITY OF PETERSBURG)

When it comes to site selection in advanced manufacturing, regional markets which exhibit a demonstrated ability to retrain an existing workforce while at the same time develop a steady flow of new talent, typically gain an edge on competition in terms of attracting new companies and expanding its existing ones.

This pipeline of new talent is generally coming out of community colleges, secondary schools and vocational programs.

With John Tyler Community College’s Precision Machining Program and its partnership with the Community College Workforce Alliance, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Prince George County to the Advanced Manufacturing Apprentice Academy Center, the Gateway Region is filled with public-private partnerships which see economic development and workforce development as one not being without the other.

Moreover, Virginia has multiple manufacturing training programs throughout the state, and the Manufacturing Skills Institute offers many different manufacturing certifications, assessments and training programs; for example, the institute’s “Military2Military” (M2M) program connects recently separated veterans and their spouses with world-class skills and jobs — it is a military transitioning program to help document manufacturing work readiness.

In providing its pupils with the foundational skills needed to pursue career pathways leading to employment in the manufacturing sector, the M2M program assesses, trains and certifies veterans and military spouses on Manufacturing Technology Level 1© (MT1) and National Career Readiness competencies so they have the foundational skills to pursue career pathways leading to employment in the sector.

The MT1 certificate program is a highly customized sequence of classes covering the interrelationships and techniques found in high performance manufacturing and production. Instruction focuses on the critical actions, knowledge, systems and processes necessary to succeed in an advanced manufacturing enterprise.

Overall, Fort Lee, a major U.S. Army Installation between, Prince George and Petersburg supports almost 23,500 jobs within the region.

Being located within Virginia’s Manufacturing Region, VGR is centrally located in an area of the Commonwealth and the middle East Coast, between Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, which covers a majority of the Old Dominion’s manufacturing business and workforce presence, which contains over 380,000 qualified individuals.

The 2020 announcement of Phlow Corporation’s partnership with Ampac Fine Chemicals in the City of Petersburg to manufacture pharmaceuticals is the most recent testament to the Gateway Region’s suitability for companies in this sector.

Happy National Manufacturing Week from VGR!