Jim Coleman (front row in yellow tie), president/CEO of Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (center) pose with manufacturing forum panelists. (Courtesy of EDC)
Jim Coleman (front row in yellow tie), president/CEO of Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (center) pose with manufacturing forum panelists. (Courtesy of EDC)

The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation kicked off the new year Tuesday with its “More Jobs for Marylanders: Innovative Manufacturing Forum.”

The program, which drew more than 100 manufacturing professionals, provided top executives from the local manufacturing community with access to millions of dollars in capital for business expansion, access to human capital and access to operating cost reductions through a plethora of new programs.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to start the new year than to thank our manufacturers for making such a difference in Prince George’s County,” said Jim Coleman, EDC president and CEO. “Prince George’s County manufacturers are the key drivers in this incredible economy that we are experiencing today. Over the last 12 months, more than 11,000 new jobs were created thanks to private sector manufacturers putting everything on the line, taking risks, and empowering our residents to change their lives in a positive way.”

A group of eight panelists shared their expertise on accelerated depreciation, lucrative tax credits, incentives and rebates.

The executives also heard from Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th District) who explained why his “Make It in America” initiative is vital to keeping America’s workforce productive.

The EDC launched its first Innovative Manufacturing Roundtable in July, during which EDC Business Development Director John Mason leveraged his relationships to begin a powerful discussion with industry, government agencies and the education community about the opportunities and challenges in the manufacturing arena.

One of the primary concerns local manufacturers expressed at the roundtable was the need for both creative financing options as well as access to the wide talent pool with the county. In response, the EDC brought together state and regional manufacturing leaders, including power broker Hoyer, to talk about where manufacturing is going in the future and what workforce partnerships and solutions are necessary to connect the companies to the innovative resources for innovative manufacturing.

“The extraordinary surge of traditional manufacturing over the last century created the success of the middle-class in America, however, as wages have stagnated over the last few decades, the opportunities that success brought is slipping away,” Hoyer said. “Revitalizing manufacturing in this country is not just about creating jobs, it’s about launching careers that last a lifetime and bring opportunities that can sustain workers in the middle class. The core of ‘Make it in America’ is about turning economic challenges into opportunities for our businesses and our workers.”

Two panel discussions followed Hoyer’s keynote address. The first discussion focused on access to human capital and featured representatives from the Eaton Company, Prince George’s EDC and community college.
Leah Kunzelman and Craig Skelly spoke about the numerous high-wage job opportunities available at Eaton, as well as the type of workforce that they are consistently developing.

Jeff Swilley, deputy director of EDC’s Workforce Services, discussed how companies like Eaton can search for and hire quality talent, as well as participate in the ‘Hire Prince George’s’ program, which partially reimburses qualified businesses for hiring and training eligible Prince George’s County residents.

The second panel featured representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce, Regional Manufacturing Institute, Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Baltimore Gas & Electric, who discussed innovative ways by which companies operating in the county can gain access to capital as well as reduce their costs.

“I’m very thankful to the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation for including the Department of Commerce in the forum,” said Kristen Shock, the Maryland Department of Commerce’s senior director of strategic industries and entrepreneurship.

“We often partner with the Regional Manufacturing Institute and the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership to serve manufacturers throughout the state,” Shock said. “The ‘More Jobs for Marylanders’ act has been operationalized to encourage our businesses to create jobs in the areas that need it most.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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