2023: A Year in Review


The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) set out in 2023 to empower manufacturers, dedicating time and effort to providing essential access to the latest training, tools, and incentives, and taking measures that help to actively shape programs that benefit Garden State businesses. Through engagement, fostering networking opportunities, and offering valuable training and consulting resources, NJMEP continues to serve as a strategic partner in navigating the dynamic New Jersey business landscape. The past year brought a blend of exciting opportunities, updates, and challenging uncertainties, which were met with resilience and fervor. As the new year continues forward, collaboration between the state, academia, businesses, and manufacturers is paramount for firms aiming to stay resilient and those looking to seize upcoming opportunities amid geopolitical and economic uncertainties.


NJMEP has been New Jersey’s premier manufacturing training and consulting provider for over 20 years, offering the latest innovations in technology, standards, and practices. Our mission is simple, to help New Jersey’s small to medium sized manufacturing businesses access the resources and develop the skills they need to grow, innovate, and expand. To address these challenges, NJMEP provides critical training and consulting solutions while also creating opportunities for the industry’s value to be seen and understood. One way this is achieved is through Manufacturing Caucus meetings, developing the State-of-the-State of Manufacturing event, the South Jersey Revitalization Summit, ‘MADE in NJ’ Manufacturing Day, and by partnering with State entities to bring forth critical new programs like The Future Makers & Creators Tour.


The 8th Annual State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit brought together manufacturing industry leaders, partners, and legislators to address the key challenges that manufacturers face in the state. New Jersey has not historically been a business or manufacturing-friendly state, and hundreds of manufacturers, industry partners, and legislators came together to help shift that paradigm. Michael Womack, architect of State-of-the-State and Senior Marketing and Communications Manager for NJMEP, told attendees, “This [event] is about having a constructive conversation and moving the industry forward.”

The summit provided a platform for manufacturers to discuss issues with the state legislature and emphasized the need for increased collaboration, more resilient supply chains, and connections with New Jersey veterans. Insights from panel discussions touched on topics such as corporate business tax, workforce development, public transit, supply chain, incentives, and childcare assistance, with legislators highlighting initiatives like the Manufacturing Voucher Program (MVP) as a success while acknowledging the need for ongoing dialogue to address regulatory hurdles. The event displayed the importance of collective efforts for moving New Jersey’s manufacturing sector forward. For manufacturing in New Jersey, it’s a matter of survival at this point—it’s sink or swim. Great strides were made, and new connections forged, but one key takeaway remains—progress mustn’t stop at the doors of the Trenton War Memorial.


Team Eagle Foundation and NJMEP’s Manufacturing CARES initiative joined forces to host the 8th Annual Jersey Guys Golf Outing—Crazy 8s—which took place in July at the Rock Ridge Golf Course in Hackettstown, New Jersey. This year was particularly special because this would be the last event for John W. Kennedy, founder of Team Eagle Foundation, and NJMEP CEO Emeritus. To date, the program has supported over 800 individuals with scholarships and grants and has been a way for manufacturing to give back to the community.

The Team Eagle Foundation and NJMEP gave away $25,000 in awards at last year’s event, which brought the total value of donations to over $800,000 since the foundation’s start in 2010! All the proceeds from this important event went toward supporting Scholarships and Education Grants that benefit groups like the NJMEP Summer Jobs Program, FIRST Robotics, County College of Morris, Veteran’s Groups, Boy and Girl Scouts STEM, Junior Achievement, and many more.


In August, NJMEP partnered with Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ), Community College of Morris (CCM), District 1 lawmakers, and South Jersey Industry Leaders to host the South Jersey Manufacturing Revitalization Summit at Rowan College of South Jersey. The event was part of ongoing efforts to revitalize underserved and disconnected areas of manufacturing in South Jersey. All those in attendance joined for a panel discussion on how State, Academic, and Industry partners can assist the more than 3,000 South Jersey Manufacturers with enhancing productivity, performance, and profits— and how these private-public partners can come together to help solve some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

The event was a critical success, shining a light on industry in South Jersey and helping to forge new partnerships between industry and academia, geared toward ensuring the success of South Jersey’s robust manufacturing sector. “We [NJMEP] are going to work and help refocus efforts on Southern New Jersey manufacturing and help connect the dots in terms of making this region more competitive, profitable, and accessible for businesses,” said Peter Connolly, NJMEP CEO. “And it starts with industry and academia coming together and facilitating the creation of a brand-new talent pipeline, right here at Rowan College of South Jersey.”


The 11th Annual ‘MADE in NJ’ Manufacturing Day event, hosted in October at iPlay America in Freehold, gathered nearly a thousand professionals for a day of celebration and collaboration. 2023’s event marked the East Coast’s largest annual manufacturing networking event to date, emphasizing the significance of domestic manufacturing. The day included networking opportunities, critical industry breakout sessions, a product showcase, a high school robotics competition, and over 50 business booths. NJMEP’s CEO, Peter Connolly, highlighted the achievements of local manufacturers in his opening remarks, while industry leaders Michele Siekerka, President & CEO of NJBIA and Tim Sullivan, CEO of NJEDA addressed the importance of amplifying manufacturing at both state and federal levels. “This day represents a celebration of our thriving manufacturing industry,” Connolly told a packed iPlay America audience. “A testament to innovation, hard work, and a collaborative spirit that defines manufacturing.”

The event featured the ‘MADE in NJ’ Manufacturing Day Awards, recognizing individuals and businesses for their contributions, the Manufacturing ‘Honor Roll’ acknowledged industry partners, and awards like Rising Stars, Leader in Life Sciences, and Innovator of the Year highlighted excellence in manufacturing. Breakout sessions covered topics like Industry 4.0, supply chain resilience, financing strategies, and women in manufacturing. The day also showcased signature cocktails, a robotics display, and a Manufacturer of the Year Award Ceremony, acknowledging outstanding manufacturers in different categories.

The Small, Medium, and Large Manufacturer of the Year Awards went to L-E-M Plastics & Supplies, Inc., Bestwork Industries for the Blind Inc., and Nipro Pharmaceutical Packaging Americas Corp., respectively. The event concluded with a look ahead to the future, aiming to inspire the next generation and showcase the diverse opportunities within the New Jersey manufacturing industry. NJMEP is already making preparations for 2024’s event, with nominations for the 2024 awards opening in February—so be sure not to miss out on the action this year!


The Future Makers and Creators Tour, created by NJMEP with support from the NJEDA, aims to introduce modern manufacturing to New Jersey’s youth. The tour, covering all 21 counties in the state, brings advanced manufacturing technologies directly to schools, providing students with firsthand experiences and insights from local manufacturers. With nearly 4 million expected job vacancies in manufacturing over the next decade, the program seeks to offer alternatives to traditional education and inspire the future manufacturing workforce.

The tour kicked off at Pleasantville Public Schools in December, engaging over 600 7th to 10th graders in exploring modern manufacturing technologies and careers. Dr. Marilyn Martinez, the Superintendent of Schools, emphasized the creative aspects of manufacturing in her opening remarks to students before they took turns participating in interactive activities like augmented reality welding, computerized numerical control (CNC) milling, and witnessing 3D printers in action.

Manufacturers participating in the tour will have the opportunity to inspire and attract the next generation of professionals, while schools can directly engage with manufacturers to explore alternative career paths in advanced manufacturing. NJMEP CEO Peter Connolly highlighted the program’s impact on undecided students and expressed enthusiasm about connecting with young minds interested in the vital field of manufacturing, saying, “The first stop on The Future Makers and Creators Tour proved that young students are interested and can be incredibly engaged when learning about this field that’s so vital to our way of life and our nation. Seeing these students smile and watching their eyes be opened to advanced manufacturing as they tried their hand at Augmented Reality welding, experienced 3D Printing in action, and connecting them directly with local manufacturers was beyond amazing,” explained Connolly. The Future Makers & Creators tour, covering all 21 New Jersey counties, aims to have a lasting impact on the manufacturing industry’s workforce development in New Jersey. Interested parties can contribute or get involved by visiting


The NJMEP team came together in early December for the company’s year-end sales meeting, this time held at the ABCO Systems training center in Carlstadt instead of the Cedar Knolls headquarters. The meeting celebrated the achievement of the Manufacturing CARES Food Drive goal.

For the past decade, NJMEP has partnered with manufacturers and community partners like CIANJ, NJBIA, Employment Horizons, Provident Bank, DBD Partners, and others to support New Jersey’s food-insecure population through ‘Manufacturing Cares’—an initiative that benefits the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ). In 2023, NJMEP achieved the ambitious goal of raising $20,000 for the Manufacturing CARES Food Drive, resulting in over 2 million meals served since its inception. With support from NJMEP’s clients and partners, Manufacturing Cares has contributed over 60,000 meals in 2023, and over 2 million meals to date.

During the meeting’s team-building activities, fifteen separate teams of NJMEP employees participated in building, inspecting, and testing pedal go-karts. Unbeknownst to the team, these go-karts were to be donated to children through the New Jersey Army National Guard Family Program (NJARNG). The NJARNG Family Programs team, along with Santa Claus, coordinated the donation to fifteen lucky military children aged 3-7 years old, each with at least one parent serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard.

The donation of go-karts to military children was a meaningful way to conclude 2023, a year focused on assisting New Jersey veterans and their families through the New Jersey Defense Manufacturing Community Consortium (NJDMCC). The NJMEP team were able to end the year on a high note, with the kids’ joy as they received the pre-built go-karts adding a heartwarming touch to the season.


In December, NJMEP CEO Peter Connolly announced that the NJMEP South Office would relocate to Rowan University’s South Jersey Technology Park—a move that is as much a symbolic gesture as it is a practical one. The move to Rowan is also intended to strengthen NJMEP’s partnership with Rowan University, one that can offer new talent pipelines for South Jersey Manufacturers and can also create new career pathways for young South Jerseyans. As part of NJMEP’s commitment to help in the revitalization of South Jersey, a new temporary NJMEP office opened in Rowan University’s South Jersey Technology Park. In about 18 months, the NJMEP South Office will relocate permanently to Rowan, and as the goal of the South Jersey Technology Park is to lead the economic revitalization of South New Jersey through an integrated program of science and technology initiatives. NJMEP’s presence will help further support this initiative


In 2023, NJMEP demonstrated unwavering commitment to empowering manufacturers by providing essential resources and guidance as the business landscape in New Jersey, and more broadly, evolved. The State-of-the-State of Manufacturing Summit, Jersey Guys Golf Outing, South Jersey Revitalization Summit, ‘MADE in NJ’ Manufacturing Day, and The Future Makers & Creators Tour highlighted a year filled with impactful initiatives and industry collaborations. The Manufacturing CARES initiative, yielding over 2 million meals for the food-insecure, and the team-building exercise donating gokarts to military children exemplify NJMEP’s dedication to community welfare. Looking ahead in 2024, NJMEP remains poised and committed to continued success in fostering growth, innovation, and resilience within New Jersey’s manufacturing sector.

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