BOSTON (WWLP) – State Sen. Eric Lesser has been chosen to lead a group of legislators who work to create opportunities for manufacturing in Massachusetts. The Longmeadow Democrat is the new Senate chair of the Joint Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.

Increasing high-tech manufacturing was one of Lesser’s top stated priorities when he campaigned for election in his Springfield-area district in 2014. “The strength of our economy is intricately tied to the manufacturing sector,” Lesser said in a news release sent to 22News. “Now is the time to develop 21st Century strategies for fostering its growth and expansion, especially in western Massachusetts, where manufacturing has been the backbone of our economy for over two centuries.”

Following decades of decline, manufacturing has enjoyed something of a rebirth in Massachusetts in recent years. Many of the manufacturing jobs of today, however, require advanced education and job training, and as such, thousands of positions remain unfilled. Improving readiness for these jobs has been a growing priority of state government.

Lesser will share the leadership of the caucus with a member of the House, Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford).