Small & Medium-Sized Manufacturers Play a Critical Role in Recovery
Manufacturing has been largely ignored or brushed off all across the country over the past few decades. It took a global pandemic to open up the eyes of the general public and policymakers.
As New Jersey businesses began to shut their doors, manufacturers wondered when the call would come to board up and cease production. Instead, the opposite happened. New Jersey deemed all manufacturing essential. Every single manufacturing enterprise throughout the state would not be forced to close.
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“To be a strong state, New Jersey must be a manufacturing state. Thanks to the resilience of the workforce, we kept manufacturing open throughout the pandemic – the unsung heroes. Products are being manufactured every day by the over 11,000 New Jersey manufacturing facilities – no option to work from home – no option to cease manufacturing for 3 months,” Sally White, Senior Director Business Development, NJMEP stated.
Every New Jersey Manufacturer is Essential
Every New Jersey manufacturer plays an essential role in the state economy. The products these businesses produce are a direct contributor to essential supply chains. States that did not follow New Jersey’s lead experienced massive disruptions.
Countless manufacturers stepped up to the challenge, retooling their facilities, and producing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for those on the front line in the fight against COVID-19. These manufacturers are being hailed as manufacturing heroes here in New Jersey.
The Empire State Manufacturing Index plummeted to -78.2 in April1 , the worst reading in the history of the index. It is more than twice as bad now compared to the Great Recession. The industry experienced huge drops in employment, new orders, and shipments. NJMEP engaged with hundreds of New Jersey manufacturers throughout the COVID-19 crisis and the opposite took place. Some manufacturers saw their business boom as they increased production to fulfill an increase in orders. Employment fell, but it was not as severe because manufacturers can continue fulfilling orders and generating revenue.
NJMEP fought for the industry. It was vital decision makers understood the value and complexity of the industry. This initiative didn’t just start once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Constant engagement with legislators and manufacturers has been the norm for the past 7+ years. NJMEP’s John W. Kennedy, CEO, Ph.D made sure the industry wouldn’t be overlooked in the midst of the chaos the pandemic brought. Between the efforts of John Kennedy and the entire NJMEP team, it made it much easier for Governor Phil Murphy to justify his decision to keep all New Jersey manufacturing open.
Textile manufacturers that don’t normally produce personal protection equipment (PPE) before the pandemic would have been considered non-essential in many states. Closing manufacturers like Unionwear in Newark would have proved disastrous. Unionwear began manufacturing Face Shields for healthcare workers on the front line in the fight against COVID-19. Absolute Green, a manufacturer of natural cleaning products, began manufacturing hand sanitizer while the world was running dry. Companies retooled and expanded their product line like Keystone Industries, who began manufacturing hand sanitizer and anti-microbial hand-soap. Closing packaging companies like QPSI would have caused a massive disruption downstream in the pharmaceutical supply chain. Medication can’t ship without being packaged.
One Manufacturer – Massive Downstream Disruptions
There’s an incredible amount to consider when a single manufacturing facility closes its doors. Manufacturing is a community-centric industry. One business needs to source components from another, that manufacturer needs to source raw materials, those raw materials need to be produced, shipped, sorted. A single manufacturing facility is connected to a complex weave of other entities, sectors, and businesses of all kinds. Closing New Jersey manufacturing would have caused an unimaginable economic void.
Every manufacturing company in New Jersey is essential. Many business leaders reacted by retooling their facilities to produce PPE to ensure the United States of America could protect its healthcare workers as they put their lives on the line to save the lives of their patients. Companies like Top Safety Products help ensure first aid squads and security personnel have the proper first aid kits stocked and serviced. Manufacturers like Modern Materiel stood ready to keep our local police armed and able to protect. Proximate Concepts and iNPLANT, LLC converted their medical device facility to produce face shields for those on the front line.
Without keeping all manufacturing open in New Jersey, the state and the entire country would have experienced even more severe supply chain disruptions and economic pressures. The local community and New Jersey’s small – medium-sized manufacturing companies proved why this industry is essential. During times of crisis, extraordinary people rise to the challenge. COVID-19 was no different. Manufacturing businesses and the workers that make it all possible stood tall and continued forward.
- JeffCoxCNBCcom. (2020, April 15). New York manufacturing hits record low reading of -78.2 amid coronavirus collapse. Retrieved May 31, 2020, from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/15/new-york-manufacturing-hits-record-low-reading-of–78point2-amid-coronavirus-collapse.html