Manufacturers saluted for adapting in COVID crisis

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BOSTON (SHNS) – With an economic development bill stuck in private House-Senate negotiations and a new Gov. Charlie Baker stimulus proposal still under consideration, legislative and administration leaders on Tuesday praised the Massachusetts manufacturing sector as crucial to the state’s pandemic response.

Many local companies pivoted operations early in the ongoing state of emergency to produce personal protective equipment or other medical supplies, helping avoid pitfalls in the supply chain at a time of crisis.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said 50 Massachusetts companies have “repurposed their production lines” to address COVID-related needs, boosted by about $16.6 million in grants from the Baker administration.

“It has been absolutely inspiring to see this sector answer the call and meet so many of our needs going forward,” Kennealy said during a virtual awards ceremony hosted by the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus. “Manufacturing really is core to who we are, to our economy, to our legacy as a state, and it will be core to our recovery going forward, playing an important role both addressing the public health crisis and an economic crisis.”

Several lawmakers also touted manufacturing as an important component to economic recovery from the COVID recession, though they did not offer any insight on the status of legislation aimed at accelerating that progress.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said manufacturing, which employs about 8 percent of the state’s workforce, is “one of the most important industries we have here in Massachusetts” and today is “inextricably linked” with innovation industries such as life sciences and energy.

Senate President Karen Spilka, who also spoke at the event, described manufacturing as an “economic engine” that “offers the keys to a very bright future.”

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