CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Aerospace and defense manufacturing companies from around the state met to discuss how to strengthen the industry Monday.
Massachusetts gets $15 billion in government defense and aerospace contracts every year and many of those go to manufacturing companies in western Massachusetts. The second EastWest exchange met to bring together and highlight small to medium sized manufacturing firms in western Massachusetts and show opportunities in the aerospace and defense sectors.
Congressman Richard Neal gave opening remarks and headlined the event. He said the Navy is rebuilding and rehabilitating submarines which could use manufacturers here in western Massachusetts for parts.
Companies spoke about the importance of recruiting talent from the tech schools in the area and how the jobs in the sector offered livable wages.
“All those smaller manufactures, precision manufacturers in western Massachusetts, they would all hire as well and those are really good jobs. Those are jobs that put you on a career path to experience the American dream.” Rick Sullivan, President and CEO of Western Mass Economic Development Council
Massachusetts recently won a $3.2 million grant from the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology program to develop a manufacturing technician training program that will serve as a national model.
The Massbridge program, created with the grant, will boost training opportunities for technicians and better meet the workforce needs of employers. The program will work with existing vocational programs, high schools, community colleges, and supporting universities, to encourage students toward careers in manufacturing USA technologies.
Those who attended the virtual event include:
- Congressman Richard Neal
- Secretary Mike Kennealy, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Colin Angle, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Co-Founder, iRobot
- Rick Sullivan, President & CEO, Western Mass Economic Development Council
- Pat Larkin, Director, Innovation Institute at MassTech
- Christine Nolan, Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing at MassTech
- Executives from Raytheon and General Dynamics