Spotlight: New York kicks off manufacturing promotion week to increase employment

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by Xinhua writers Liu Yanan, Xu Feng, Wang Wen

NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) — New York City kicked off its first-ever manufacturing week on Friday to raise public awareness, especially among young people.

Based on Made in NYC initiative and National Manufacturing Day, the Made in NYC Week program features factory tours, hiring events, open studios, interactive meetings of manufacturing communities and sales of locally made articles.

The manufacturing sector of non-durable goods in New York State witnessed an increase of 5,900 jobs from August 2017 to August 2018 while that of durable goods lost 8,100 jobs, leading to a total loss of 2,200 jobs in the manufacturing sector, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Hiring people is not easy. Tech Products, a local identification product maker, has raised payment for employees above minimum wage of 15 U.S. dollars per hour to make its offers more competitive in a brisk market, according to Daniel D. O’Connor, vice president of sales and marketing.

Only one in the 32 employees at Tech Products’s company in Staten Island, the southernmost and westernmost Borough of New York, is under the age of 30, said O’Connor on Friday, adding that labor and raw materials respectively account for around 35 and 15 percent of the total cost.

“We’re not considering expansion of business now and would have all moved production facility to New Jersey if the company doesn’t own the land,” said O’Connor.

The company once made a plan to build new production facilities on its own land but scrapped it due to the additional cost of around 4 million U.S. dollars.

“They are trying to get us out of here. New York City hates manufacturing. Every regulation is against us. It’s hard time for maintaining manufacturing. Real estate is the No. 1 cause changing that,” said O’Connor.

“Large-scale manufacturing is gone,” said Brian T. Coleman, chief executive officer of a local non-profit promoter of manufacturing Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC).

Urban manufacturing is preserved by local authorities in New York to secure job opportunities for low-income groups and people without a high education background.

“I think there is a great appreciation in the country and certainly locally in New York City for domestically and locally made products,” Coleman told Xinhua. “We think the prospect (of urban manufacturing) is strong and we hope to continue to service the demand as long as it’s there.”

The GMDC, since its inception in 1992, has rehabilitated seven manufacturing buildings in Brooklyn for small manufacturing enterprises, artisans and artists. Now it owns and operates six of them, which house more than 110 small- and medium-sized businesses and over 600 workers.

“It’s wonderful to be here as we collaborate with wonderful groups here with lots of artisans and different skill sets,” said Erin Campbell, an employee with a local industrial design company In.sek Design, which is situated at a GMDC-developed building.

“We believe this is the best location for us,” Campbell said. “There are many contractors and manufacturers throughout the city so we’re not paying much for shipping out to projects. It really ends up saving and make possible to run at a small scale.”

Rent in New York is “so expensive that any kind of manufacturing in New York City is not going to happen,” said John Danabashian, project manager with a local carpentry company Bjork Carle Woodworking, which is also housed at a GMDC-developed building. “That’s why GMDC is ideal because they keep rental down at manageable level.”

Alchemy Paintworks, a small company that provides spray coatings for art and industry, moved into a GMDC-developed building in 2015. Its business has expanded by around 50 percent in three years, according to Jason Brown, the company’s founder.

“Our advantage in New York is understanding of the sense of artists and use my knowledge to work out doable solutions with artists,” said Brown.

Oct. 5, 2018 marked the 6th National Manufacturing Day of the United States as over 1,600 manufacturers opened doors to the public and around 3,000 events were held.

New York City has 5,700 small manufacturing businesses with 78,000 employees, according to Tom Donohue, program director of Made In NYC.

In the United States, the manufacturing sector provided 342,000 new jobs from December 2016 to September 2018, and by this September, the private manufacturing sector had employed 12.685 million people, according to ADP, an American provider of human resources management software and services.

The government-funded GMDC provides a model of creating and operating urban manufacturing space for small businesses, artisans and artists by acquiring, rehabilitating and managing neglected industries properties.

It is now renovating three buildings in an entire city block in Ozone Park, Queens that will provide 85,000 square feet of new industrial space, according to its official website.

The GMDC has worked with other cities including Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, Saint Paul in Minnesota and Hoboken in New Jersey.

“We … try to replicate our model,” Coleman said. “We’re not looking to expand our businesses (into these cities). We’re giving them a kind of tips, points, the dos and don’ts on how to replicate the model we’ve created here in New York.”

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