by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Manufacturers will continue to feel the effects of workforce shortages in the New Year, from shortages of those with the specific skills required for a job to others with interest in on-the-job training to break into a manufacturing career. Nationally, major initiatives have ramped up over the years to help change perceptions about manufacturing careers to help increase interest and the pool of potential candidates. But as our NWIRC staff travel the region meeting with manufacturers, we hear another common concern of people leaving the region all together to seek ‘better’ opportunities, especially new graduates. This issue also came to light at the launch meeting last November for a Next Generation manufacturing partnership (aka Keystone Edge Next Generation Manufacturing Partnership). One of the priority action teams was created to focus on branding the region for, not only the regional attributes and lifestyle, but also as a manufacturing hub.

During various follow-up conference call meetings, this action team is now moving ahead with their project idea. I’d like to share a letter sent to the Partnership from the Action Team Chair, Bruce Denniston, Vice-President and General Manager at Pine Electronics.

“As part of our initiative to brand and promote our region, we are looking for some folks who have made the decision to ‘come home’ to Northwest Pennsylvania. At our initial meeting we discussed many positive attributes of our region. Among these are 1) lots of innovative manufacturing companies in the region, 2) lots of lifestyle benefits, and 3) reasonable cost of living. The pride in our businesses and our region was heard loud and clear at our November 6 Next Gen Industry Partnership Launch Meeting. I think we’re all interested in doing all we can to sustain and grow our businesses and keep the region economically strong. Part of this effort is to attract back the talented people who have left the region.

In order to accomplish this, the Branding the Region Action Team is interested in connecting with as many folks as possible who have made the decision to ‘come home’. This is where we need your help. Perhaps there is someone in your business, or elsewhere in your network, who has returned to Northwest Pennsylvania to work and take advantage of the many benefits of the area. We’d like to hear their stories and ultimately make a few promotional videos which tell their stories in a way that could be compelling and inspirational to others.”

On behalf of Bruce, I’d like to ask our readers to contact us if you have a story about returning to the region. In addition, we’d also like to hear stories from those who have made a decision not to leave the region because of the lifestyle and opportunities in manufacturing that are evident in northwestern PA.

We know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Let’s continue to promote the ‘green’ in Pennsylvania and encourage talent of all ages to stay or consider coming home.

(Send your story or comments to lknoll@nwirc.org.)