Manufacturers across New Jersey gathered at the State House in Trenton on May 20 for the annual State of the State of Manufacturing Summit 


As reported previously, NJMEP made the strategic decision to transition stewardship of the event to the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) in 2024. This was done as part of the “Manufacturing Counts” initiative to enhance advocacy efforts and amplify the influence of the state’s manufacturing sector. This significant initiative builds upon NJMEP’s successful efforts in elevating the industry’s voice and fostering a dynamic community of manufacturing leaders. By entrusting NJBIA with the stewardship of the summit, NJMEP aims to bridge the engagement gap between the state and its manufacturers, leveraging NJBIA’s robust relationships and dedication to building a more business-friendly environment. 

The transition signifies a collaborative effort to propel the conversation forward and enact meaningful change benefiting both the manufacturing community and the broader business landscape in New Jersey. This strategic transition builds upon the “Manufacturing Counts” partnership between NJMEP and NJBIA, underscoring a shared vision for a prosperous business ecosystem in New Jersey, and reflects a unified commitment to supporting the local manufacturing industry. 


In the past, the event was hosted at the Trenton War Memorial, but this year’s format changed to the Trenton State House, bringing manufacturers closer to the source—the legislators. The summit convened industry leaders, stakeholders, STEM firm executives, and legislators, providing a platform for discussions on key industry topics. This year’s event featured some new aspects including a presentation of a Senate Resolution to the Manufacturing Counts partnership, a Legislative Manufacturing Caucus Hearing, speeches from industry influencers like Michelle Siekerka (President/CEO of NJBIA), Peter Connolly (CEO of NJMEP), and Damian Bednarz (Managing Director of Attentive Energy Two), and networking opportunities at Cooper’s Riverview. 

Ahead of the event, NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka expressed anticipation for hosting the summit at the State House, saying, “Manufacturing is a crucial industry for New Jersey’s economy, with workforce, regulatory and cost challenges providing continuing headwinds. We thank the legislators, partners, and attendees who will be on hand for this event to discuss how we can advance manufacturing in New Jersey.” 


After completing registration, manufacturers and partners convened in Committee Room 6 of the state house to network and strategize for the day’s events. Throughout the day, legislators, including senators Testa, Greenstein, Bucco Jr, Zwicker, Johnson, Moriarty, McKeon, Amato Jr., Diegnan, and Steinhardt along with assembly members, visited to engage with constituents, learn about their businesses, and collaborate on addressing challenges and devising solutions. 

During the Senate session, the manufacturers proceeded to the Senate chambers for the presentation of the Senate Resolution to the Manufacturing Counts partnership. Following this, they returned to the Committee Room to prepare for the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus Hearing. More legislators joined them to continue discussions on the industry’s needs for growth, with both Democrats and Republicans actively participating in networking and connecting with local manufacturers. 


The Legislative Manufacturing Caucus commenced with remarks from Siekerka and Peter Connolly, who answered inquiries from co-chairs Senator Michael Testa and Linda Greenstein. Subsequently, two manufacturers, Zago Manufacturing Company, Inc. and Falstrom Company, Inc. addressed the audience, followed by statements from Aaron Fichtner (President, NJ Council of Community Colleges) and Teik C. Lim (President, New Jersey Institute of Technology), emphasizing the significance of manufacturing and the pivotal roles of NJBIA and NJMEP in supporting the industry and the state. 

The four main points the caucus focused on were:  

  • Restoring funding to key organizations that support manufacturing 
  • Lowering costs of doing business 
  • Improving workforce development 
  • Supporting an innovation ecosystem and infrastructure improvements 
  • Reducing burdensome over-regulation 


The 2024 State of the State of Manufacturing Summit in Trenton marked a significant milestone for New Jersey’s manufacturing sector. By bringing the summit to the State House, the event facilitated direct engagement between manufacturers and legislators, fostering meaningful dialogue on critical industry issues. Key discussions centered on lowering business costs, improving workforce development, supporting innovation, and reducing regulatory burdens. The participation of industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders underscored the importance of collaboration in driving the manufacturing sector forward. With a shared commitment to supporting local manufacturers, New Jersey is well-positioned to capitalize on new opportunities and overcome ongoing challenges, ensuring a thriving future for the industry and the broader economy. 

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