FLORHAM PARK, NJ- On the morning of March 31st, the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park was inundated with some of New Jersey’s most elite manufacturing leaders and state officials to discuss the current state of the manufacturing business sector and its future.

The State of Manufacturing Summit was hosted by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) and brought together important organizations throughout the state such as the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, which is based out of Florham Park itself. The issues of the day focused on small business taxation, energy and environmental regulations and critical workforce development initiatives.

Executives and Legislators agreed as one, that New Jersey Manufacturing is not only alive, but thriving. They asserted that the biggest hurdle for business in New Jersey was finding technically qualified job applicants to prop up their growing businesses. Particularly, there was a call for more emphasis placed on vocational schooling in the state.

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“We have great schools in New Jersey - at every level - but no real program management goals when it comes to vocational schooling, and that’s where the NJMEP is critical,” said NJMEP CEO, John W. Kennedy.  “We are working hard to make sure our New Jersey manufacturers get the skilled labor force they need to stay competitive globally.”

The NJMEP is a private, not-for-profit organization that strives to improve the profitability and competitiveness of manufacturers across the state of New Jersey. The organization is backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and helps other organizations to enhance their productivity and efficiency. These two organizations seek to counter the misconception of a failing New Jersey manufacturing sector and strive to strengthen it for the future.

"There are 578,000 jobs in the US that would not have been created without the MEP program,” said Carol Thomas of NIST MEP. "I think many people have a misconception about manufacturing in NJ, it's actually strong and vibrant and it must be nurtured if we are going to continue to produce jobs in NJ."