SAN DIEGO, CA – Hundreds of business executives, educators, and representatives from federal, state and local government assembled in the Board of Equalization’s (BOE) 4th District recently for the largest Manufacturing Day event in California. The gathering, sponsored by the Centers for Competitive Applied Technologies (CACT) at San Diego City College and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), was planned to raise awareness for Manufacturing Month and to encourage dialogue about opportunities, successes and challenges facing the manufacturing and technology sectors. BOE Member Diane L. Harkey endorsed the event, its sponsors, and the programs that support growth for manufacturing, and also benefit California’s economy and job growth.
CACT is one such program that sought to spread the word about their services. Ed Smith, Associate Director of CACT stressed the importance of providing education and training to prepare students for careers in manufacturing, and other benefits community college programs available to students and industries they will work in. According to its website, CACT is an advanced manufacturing initiative of the California Community College Chancellor’s office that contributes “through technology education, manufacturing training and services that contribute to continuous workforce development.”
Dr. Trudy Gerald, who directs the CACT program at San Diego City College attended the affair along with several elected officials including Council President Sherri Lightner and Councilmember Myrtle Cole. San Diego Regional Economic Development Center Vice President Sean Bar served as host for the event.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and U.S. Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Chandra Brown addressed guests to highlight the important role manufacturing has in sustaining the U.S. economy and job market. Atkins pledged continued support for programs that help manufacturing and technology businesses prosper. The speaker also thanked Harkey for her support, acknowledging the Board Member’s efforts as a valuable partner for the industry. Members of Harkey’s staff were available to provide information related to the Manufacturing, Research & Development Equipment partial tax exemption. The recently enacted exemption reduces sales tax by more than 50 percent on qualifying purchases, lease payments and other business expenses.
Brown emphasized the need to educate sufficient numbers of qualified candidates to fill high-paying positions being created in the manufacturing, technology, and research sectors. According to Brown the average salary for trained skilled workers in today’s manufacturing market is more than $90 per hour, or about $187,000 annually.
“Manufacturing has grown by 2.6 percent in the Metropolitan San Diego area alone. It may not seem like much, but that’s actually a very good number,” Brown explained. To put that growth into perspective Brown referenced Commerce Department data that shows manufacturing companies make up 12 percent of all companies in America. However, the total combined revenue of manufacturers in just California alone would surpass the total budget of the world’s ninth richest economy.
The Manufacturing Day tribute ended with a discussion amongst guests and a panel of manufacturing executives. Industry advocate Michael Shaw of the California Manufacturing & Technology Association (CMTA) moderated the three-person panel. General Atomics’ John Smith, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Jim Helmer, BAE Systems’ Mark Balmert, Hunter Industries’ Greg Hunter, and Plantronics‘ Alejandro Bustamante answered questions about the challenges of operating a California business, ideas for increasing the pool of qualified job candidates, and their predictions for manufacturing in the future.
In response to one audience question: “What can business do to help educators access relevant tools and resources to teach students,” Helmer explained how General Atomic wants to donate hi-tech equipment to schools, but has struggled to find a school willing to accept their offer because regulations prevent them from doing so. Without missing a beat Smith stood from his seat and replied, “Fourteen-Fourteen Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA.” Sparking a roar of laughter and applause from the audience, as they quickly realized Smith was providing panelists with the mailing address of the program he manages at SDCC.
San Diego businesses closed out the day by opening their doors for public tours and demonstrations as part of the kick-off event. There are many other manufacturing activities scheduled through October. You may read more about Manufacturing Month. Also visit the BOE’s website for a calendar of BOE manufacturing workshops scheduled for Manufacturing Month, and registration information.