By Mark DiMaio
In 2017, we invited Chamber members to participate in a survey in part to gauge their view of obstacles to their business growth. Listed below are the top five, along with ways the Chamber is addressing them.
1. Cost of Employee Health Care
The Chamber recognizes the growing problem surrounding health care costs.
2. Lack of Qualified Applicants
We are actively engaged, along with many of our members, with the Pathways to Prosperity program. Delaware Pathways programs are a set of curriculum focused on a specific industry-based “pathway,” paired with opportunities to gain workplace experience while still in high school, graduate with a head start on a college degree, or gain qualifications needed to go to work immediately. The program is a unique collaboration of school districts, businesses, higher education, and national advisory partners that represent a new way to do school. The Delaware Manufacturing Association (a Chamber affiliate) members have actively participated in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Production & Logistics pathways.
Delaware Pathways will host its 4th Annual Conference on March 21.
3. Concerns with Crime & Safety
The Chamber supports the efforts of elected officials and their staffs to reduce crime in Wilmington and across the state.
4. Concerns About Local Schools
Improving education outcomes is a key factor in developing a skilled workforce and attracting new business to Delaware.
5. Cost of Permitting and Regulation Compliance
by Mark DiMaio
The future is now for expanding the state’s manufacturing sector. While manufacturing jobs in Delaware continue to increase at a modest pace, building blocks have been put into place to spring Delaware forward. Delaware manufacturing will need to combine organic growth with the long-term development of heavier industries in abandoned and underutilized locations. The modernized Coastal Zone Act should propel new investment in Delaware’s manufacturing sector.
In order for Delaware manufacturing to flourish, a strong and skilled workforce in essential. Many Delaware manufacturers are working with Delaware Technical Community College’s workforce training department to develop future employees to handle the rigors of 21st century advanced manufacturing. This advanced training is needed to develop skilled employees to replace older workers who are retiring. In addition to instruction in subjects such as computer programming and robotics, training also focuses on developing better ‘soft’ skills, such as leadership, teamwork and problem-solving, in order to compete in the modern workplace.
The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Manufacturing Association invite you to learn more the about the future of Delaware Manufacturing at the Spring Legislative Brunch & Manufacturing Conference.
as published by Delaware Business Times
By Roger Morris
Special to Delaware Business Times
Coming off a year when Delaware manufacturing jobs rose by almost one-half percent to about 26,000 workers, jobs growth in 2018 is expected to be similarly modest. According to local manufacturers and those who work in manufacturing-related organizations, three major trends will dominate the sector in the coming year:
Job growth will largely be organic
Most job growth will occur within businesses currently located within the state, with little expectations of immediate major manufacturing relocations to the region.
“One of the challenges we have at the Delaware Manufacturing Association is to reach out to growing companies in the state,” said Neil Nicastro, plant manager at PPG Industries’ Dover facility and a leader in the organization. “We try to get these companies in to discuss the challenges to growth they face, and we have seven sub-groups, such as health, advocacy and energy issues, to help in these areas.”
However, long-term growth may involve the relocation of heavier industries into the region, which was part of the rationale for the state changing some provisions of the Coastal Zone Act, to be more attractive for large manufactures to relocate here. Additionally, there are now recently abandoned locations available between Wilmington and the Pennsylvania border.
“I was very impressed when I recently visited the Navy Ship Yard in Philadelphia, and saw what they were doing,” Nicastro said of the 1,200-acre business campus, which is home to more than 12,000 employees and 152 companies. “I can’t help but think we can do something similar in Delaware.”
Programming and robotics part of training
Most of the jobs and job training will be concentrated on what is called “advance manufacturing” instead of traditional manufacturing skills.
“No employer is using the same machinery they were using 30 years ago,” said Rich Heffron, head of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, which means that new workers need to be trained in skills such as computer programming and robotics.
“The challenge is to find trained employees to replace older workers who are retiring,” Nicastro added.
Nicastro also thinks it’s important for young people to change their idea of manufacturing as a “dark and dirty” place, and he even invites parents to accompany their teens during career events at the PPG plant during the annual National Manufacturing Week.
Soft skills just as important
Employers are increasingly demanding that young potential workers be trained in “soft skills” as well as technical skills.
“We did a survey of state manufacturers to ask what job skills they are currently looking for,” said Paul Morris, head of workforce training at Delaware Technical Community College, “and we were surprised that about 90 percent said they needed better ‘soft’ skills, such as being skilled in leadership, teamwork and problem-solving.”
Nicastro added that some newly hired young employees have little understanding of workplace practices, even about work scheduling, being surprised that “they’re going to have to work a 40-hour week. What we really need is for more companies to provide job internships for training.”
Finally, while recent federal cuts in corporate tax rates may spur growth, James Butkiewicz, professor and chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Delaware, warned, “My concern is that the tax plan increases the fiscal deficit. This will appreciate the dollar and worsen our trade deficit, and this could hurt manufacturing and agriculture.”
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced that it has been selected as 2017 Company of the Year by Instrument Business Outlook (IBO).
IBO is a respected industry newsletter that tracks trends in the laboratory products markets, monitoring hundreds of life science and analytical instrument companies on a daily basis.
Managing Editor Tanya Samazan noted: "Agilent has grown sales since fiscal 2015 while keeping costs constant. The company's fiscal 2017 revenue growth was its fastest since fiscal 2010. Agilent's new investments have also paid off. Changes include an expansion of Agilent's diagnostics business, entry into new markets such as cell analysis and Raman spectroscopy, and additions to successful franchises in NGS sample preparation and LC/MS, among other key product launches."
"We are pleased that IBO has recognized Agilent as their 2017 Company of the Year, citing our impressive growth," said Mike McMullen, Agilent's president and CEO. "Having the right strategy to secure growth is pivotal, but equally crucial is the right team, resolute in their commitment, and with one focus - to provide solutions and services which enable Agilent´s customers to be successful across the all the markets we serve."
The newsletter highlighted Agilent's increased growth in revenues, operating profit, and net income, noting that the gains were the result of a sustained effort to position the company for future growth.
"It is rewarding that an organization with an in-depth knowledge of the industry, such as IBO, recognizes Agilent´s current strategy is the right one resulting in consistent growth," said Patrick Kaltenbach, president of Agilent's Life Sciences and Applied Markets Group. "Growth fueled by our focus on Innovation with Purpose, introducing differentiated solutions to address customer needs, and our strong Operational Excellence in developing, manufacturing and commercialization of our products, all complemented by our recent acquisitions."
IBO is a twice-monthly publication of SDi, a division of BioInformatics LLC, which offers custom market research and consulting, and strategic advisory services. IBO will present the award to Agilent at the annual conference of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) in San Diego in early February.
Manufacturing Matters: Edgewell Personal Care Bolsters Local Manufacturing, Creates 140 Jobs in Dover
On December 7, Edgewell Personal Care, parent company of leading global personal care brands in the shave, feminine care, sun care, skin care and infant markets, joined colleagues, local officials, community leaders and Walmart representatives to recognize Edgewell’s commitment to local manufacturing and job creation. Edgewell recently completed the consolidation of its North American Feminine Care production at the company’s manufacturing facility in Dover, Del, resulting in 140 new jobs. Additionally, the company celebrated Walmart’s 10-year commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.
“Within all of Edgewell’s manufacturing sites, we know that operating with passion, integrity and respect ultimately provides the best products and experience for our customers and consumers,” said Chris Crowell, vice president, Edgewell global operations. “As we strive to produce products that enhance the well-being of our consumers, it’s equally important that we manufacture these products as close to our customers as possible so we may respond quickly to their needs. This consolidation in Dover is an important step in positioning Edgewell to meet the requirements of our U.S. shoppers.”
Based on data from Boston Consulting Group, it’s estimated that one million new U.S. jobs will be created through Walmart’s initiative, including direct manufacturing job growth of approximately 250,000, and indirect job growth of approximately 750,000 in the support and service sectors.
“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. manufacturing. “We are focused on buying great quality products that create jobs in communities across the U.S. It makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company.”
For more information about Edgewell Personal Care and its portfolio of leading personal care brands, please visit www.edgewell.com.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.