3rd Annual Manufacturing Summit rousing success

FRESNO – Over 850 registered for the 2017 Manufacturing Summit-Thriving in the Valley, including 205 local students. The day was dedicated to the “thriving” manufacturing community in the San Joaquin Valley.

The third annual event took place at the Fresno Convention Center and featured 85 vendors from manufacturing, education, finance and government. Additionally, 24 diverse workshops were offered, created based on feedback from previous year’s attendees. These practical workshops pointed a spotlight on a range of topics for manufacturing from financing and taxes to diversity and veterans.

Opening remarks were provided by Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith, and San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA) Chair Mike Betts. Former President of Shell Oil Company and Founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, John Hofmeister, provided the morning session keynote address, where he focused on energy related issues and its impact on manufacturing. The lunch keynote was delivered by Katherine A. DeRosear, the Partnership Architect for the Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI), and facilitator of the Dream it. Do it. Virginia Network. DeRosear’s presentation centered on increasing the manufacturing capacity of communities by closing the career planning and skills gaps faced by advanced technology industries.

Planning for this year’s event was carried out by SJVMA committee members, led by Chair Mike Betts and Business Development Director, Sam Geil. Since rebranding itself in April 2016, SJVMA has reached a membership milestone of more than 500. Committee members and their hard work were recognized at a VIP reception held the night before the Summit at Mechanical Associates.

The Summit’s success shows what can be accomplished when people from different professions come together under one common vision: support a thriving economy where our Manufacturing industry can meet its full potential. SJVMA has many more projects to support this goal in the pipeline, and are already planning for next year’s Summit!

USDA certifies another investment pool for small and startup rural businesses

Acting Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning has announced that USDA has certified the Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV LP as an investment pool for small and startup rural businesses.

The fund will support 30 to 45 companies that have the potential to generate more than $200 million in economic activity and create 600 jobs. It will provide capital for high-growth companies in the biosciences, technology and agricultural technology industries. The fund is the second USDA has certified under the Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). RBIP funds support USDA’s strategy for rural economic growth.

Farm Credit System members are contributing $31 million to the Ag Innovation Fund. The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of banks and lenders specifically chartered to serve agriculture and the U.S. rural economy.

This is not your grandfather’s manufacturing career

The 2016 Presidential race put a spotlight on bringing jobs back to the US, particularly in manufacturing. While the focus during the campaigns was on losing the jobs to lower-wage economies abroad, there is another reality: we lost interest in the greatest American middle-class industry sector somewhere along the way. Contrary to another belief, technology hasn’t taken these jobs either – it’s only changed them. The physical muscle required for manufacturing jobs 20 years ago has been replaced with the need for intellectual muscle and technical expertise, and here in the Valley we’re building our own world-class workforce.

The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance’s 2017 Manufacturing Summit in April was attended by nearly 800 people – over 200 of them students, 60 exhibitors, and two notable keynote speakers affecting manufacturing and policy on a national level. SJVMA and the annual Summit are bringing together this industry sector in unprecedented ways. The aim: to develop pathways for a future workforce.

The energy surrounding the rebirth of manufacturing is electric, and exciting for the economic development of Fresno and the whole Valley. Through tools like the E3 Network, which matches students up with employers to participate in job shadowing and internships, we are engaging our children earlier to think about careers and explore the many onramps to success. Robust new Career Technical Education programs are being launched throughout the region, enabling students to fast track into the workforce through project-based learning and dual-enrollment in courses through our high schools and community colleges simultaneously.

The development of these invaluable programs is based in our ability to come together as a community and focus efforts on one goal – building a world-class workforce development ecosystem. Fresno Unified is working closely with the State Center Community College District to ensure these programs are meeting employer demands, and move seamlessly into post-secondary curriculum. With incredible alignment of focus, the synergy being created is resulting in remarkable programs and unlimited options for our kids to build a bright future – for themselves, and in turn, enriching our community.

The Fresno Business Council, SJVMA and Betts Company are proud to be involved with all of our community partners in creating bright futures for our next-generation workforce and our local manufacturers.