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Is Manufacturing on the Rise in Worcester?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Elected officials, industry executives, and educational experts are taking part in a forum in Worcester on Wednesday focusing on the role of technology in the manufacturing -- and leaders in the community are bullish on the industry making a comeback in the region.

"By 2020, there will be 100,000 people leaving manufacturing because they'll be aging out," said former Lieutenant Governor and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Tim Murray. "Even if we didn't add jobs, we need to expand the pipeline."

See the Ten Biggest Manufacturing Employers in Central MA BELOW

The event Wednesday is part of a "Building the Future" series by The Atlantic, which includes Governor Deval Patrick, Representative Jim McGovern, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Krepielian, as well representatives from Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Worcester Technical High School. Business leaders taking part in the forum include executives from Siemens Metal Technologies, Raytheon, Bose, and Waters Corporation.

"With this program, The Atlantic is convening local and state policymakers able to effect change along with industry thought leaders who will share their various perspectives on the future of manufacturing in Worcester," said Alexi New with The Atlantic. "The program will focus on Worcester's development of dynamic technologies in advanced software, as well as the technical training programs in place at schools like Worcester Polytechnic Institute and in the larger business community that will be key to reinvigorating Worcester's historically robust manufacturing sector."

Forum panelist Jack Healy with the MassMEP told GoLocal, "I've said that it's been a race between education and technology, and technology is winning."

"Manufacturing in Central Mass is flourishing.  We're 15th nationally in total manufacturing jobs to total jobs ratio. Manufacturing has changed however, and you need more than a high school education, you need specific skills. And there won't be any jobs -- at least for our children -- that don't involve computers," said Healy.

Need for Technology in Industry

In its "Worcester Regional Economic Competitiveness Outlook," the Chamber of Commerce notes,"In 2010, manufacturing in Worcester was the strongest sector in comparison to Boston. Across Worcester County, 31,279 people were employed in manufacturing in 2010, and nearly 10,000 people were employed in manufacturing in the City of Worcester. The average annual wage across the sector in Worcester County was $55,879 in 2010.

"There is evidence that the Manufacturing sector is poised for significant growth statewide and the Greater Worcester Region is uniquely positioned to realize significant industry growth," the Chamber continued.

Quinsigamond Community College President Gail Carberry spoke about taking part in The Atlantic forum -- and the efforts the college is undertaking to move the manufacturing agenda forward.

"Quinsigamond is one of several community colleges that is working to move the advanced manufacturing agenda forward, building a skilled workforce so that Massachusetts can have a global edge," said Carberry. "The Department of Labor grant that Quinsigamond was the primary grantee of $20M -- we worked with community colleges throughout the state to double our efforts. And we're working to double that again."

At the first stop in The Atlantic's "Building the Future" series, Siemens announced a $66.8 million software grant to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College to educate and train workers for the manufacturing industry.

"I anticipate partnership talks moving forward," said Murray. "Siemens has been a strong partner already in Central Mass, they've been an employer in the community," noting Siemens' acquisition of Morgan Construction in 2008.

Looking Ahead

"Manufacturing in Central Mass is flourishing. 10.9% of our jobs are in manufacturing.  The total metro GSP output is about 16.9% That's extremely high in comparison compared to the national average of 12%," said Healy.  "If you look at 2009 -- considered a low point  -- the fastest growing sectors have been primary metals, metals processing, and machinery. Each of them grew by 42% from 2009 to 2011."

"As far as I'm concerned, manufacturing has changed -- and you need more than just a high school education, you need some critical skills," said Healy. 

Carberry spoke to the role that Quinsigamond has in the education piece. "We're proud of the partnership we have with MassMEP.  The apprenticeship model now being recognized as having enough academic rigor to be granted credits.   We have strong pathways to Fitchburg State for industrial engineering.  We want to have a showcase opportunities for cutting edge manufacturers to showcase their wares, to let local manfacturers have a one-stop-shope to get incumbent workers up to date on their skills, and to get new workers."

"We're looking to re-double our efforts," said Carberry. 

Tim McGourthy with the Worcester Regional Resarch Bureau spoke to the important - and growing - role of manufacturing in the region. 

"The Research Bureau held a similar forum in October 2013 about the future of manufacturing in Central Massachusetts. It’s a dynamic period in the industry as off-shoring slows and on-shoring is an increasingly attractive option. While the cost of labor remains low in certain other parts of the world, direct access to U.S. markets, a skilled and efficient workforce, and a significant low-cost energy supply make the U.S. a competitive place for manufacturing," said McGourthy.  "Central Massachusetts has much of the infrastructure and clusters to attract new and returning manufacturing industries."


Related Slideshow: 10 Biggest Manufacturers in Central MA

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St. Gobain Ceramic

Worcester, Northborough

Number of Employees: 1,250-5,498

Saint-Gobain Ceramic Materials division manufactures a wide range of high value components for industrial markets, including grains and powders, fine ceramics, photonics, scintillation and quartz products and refractories used in the steel market or glass furnaces.

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St. Gobain Abrasives

Number of Employees: 1,000-4,999


Saint-Gobain Abrasives is the largest global abrasive supplier for bonded, coated, non-woven and superabrasives as well as diamond and equipment products for the industrial, construction, automotive repair and do-it-yourself markets.

Prev Next

Metso Automation


Number of Employees: 500-999

Metso is a leading process performance provider, with customers in the mining, construction, and oil & gas industries. They focus on the development of intelligent solutions that improve sustainability and profitability. Metso employs around 16,000 professionals in 50 countries. 

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North Grafton

Number of Employees: 500-999

Originally founded in Worcester in 1883, Wyman-Gordon is a worldwide leading manufacturer ofmetal and composite material parts used in aerospace turbine engines, land-based gas turbines, and power plants.

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Polar Beverages


Number of Employees: 500-999

Based in Worcester, Polar Beverages is the largest independent soft-drink bottler in the country. It manufactures fruit-flavored sodas, ginger ale, seltzer, drink mixers, and spring water. 

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Number of Employees: 500-999

Founded in 1955, Nypro provides an array of global solutions in product design, production, tooling and distribution for the Healthcare and Packaging industries. Nypro was the first manufacturer to fully automate all factories with robots and automation.

Prev Next



Number of Employees: 500-999

Headquartered in Spencer, FLEXcon is a worldwide manufacturer of pressure-sensitive film products, which are used for indoor and outdoor advertising, safety/hazard labels, bar coded labels, primary labels, and product identification. 

Prev Next

GKN Sinter Metals


Number of Employees: 250-499

GKN Sinter Metals is the world's leading supplier of metal powder precision components. Their global production and sales network employs approximately 6,500 associates in more than 30 facilities on five continents. With a history dating back to the 1930s, GKN currently has production sites in Germany, Italy, South Africa, India, China, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the USA.

Prev Next

Dexter-Russell, Inc.


Number of Employees: 250-499

Founded in Southbridge in 1818, Dexter-Russell, Inc. is the largest and oldest manufacturer of professional cutlery in the United States. It was originally known as the Harrington Cutlery Company. 

Prev Next

IPG Photonics


Number of Employees: 250-499

IPG Photonics is a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for diverse applications in numerous markets. IPG offers a diverse lines of low, mid and high-power lasers and amplifiers are used in materials processing, communications, medical and advanced applications. 


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