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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) have entered into a formal agreement to unite, broaden and strengthen the support of manufacturing businesses throughout the state.

Under the new Manufacturing Counts partnership, NJBIA, the largest statewide employer association in the nation, and NJMEP, the foremost provider of resources, programs and information for New Jersey manufacturers, will coordinate efforts and resources to bolster advocacy, collaboration and visibility for the industry.

The Manufacturing Counts announcement precedes the first Legislative Manufacturing Caucus meeting of 2022, which takes place tomorrow, Feb. 24, at Source Brewing in Colts Neck.

“As NJBIA’s manufacturing roots go back more than a century and the industry faces continuing workforce challenges and costly burdens, we look forward to productively build off of this partnership with NJMEP,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “By aligning our dedicated and collective efforts, we can fulfill our joint mission to truly strengthen and grow our manufacturing industry, which is so essential to New Jersey’s economy.”

“When one considers the overall positive financial and employee impacts that 11,000-plus firms in manufacturing, STEM and transportation & logistics make in our state, it is obvious that partnering and teamwork are the best available options to support these sectors,” said NJMEP CEO John W. Kennedy.

“Since I started at NJMEP 10 years ago, NJBIA has always been a strong partner. And as we progress forward, it made the best sense to work closer together in a more structured capacity. Exciting times.”

The Manufacturing Counts partnership will see both organizations embark on an engagement campaign of New Jersey manufacturers for the purposes of building a stronger grassroots network, utilizing government affairs events and other networking events from both groups.

This will include opportunities for the sharing of peer-to-peer best practices, and additional surveying and research to bring a deeper understanding of the needs and concerns of manufacturers.

Armed with greater information and collaboration, NJBIA and NJMEP will advance a timely, relevant, and specific agenda, with prioritized actions items, for the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, the full Legislature, and the Murphy administration.

“We know that New Jersey manufacturers need improved workforce development, support for the innovation ecosystem, a reduction in mounting burdensome regulations and protections from liability,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas. “Through this collaborative process, we can fine-tune and address those needs through legislation and communication with our policymakers.”

Further, the Manufacturing Counts partnership will seek input from a broader coalition of business, industry and nonprofit groups to provide support for the collective work. This will include a communications campaign to increase awareness of manufacturing careers.

“This partnership is a tremendous opportunity for both NJBIA and NJMEP, however, the entire industry stands to gain,” said NJMEP Senior Director of Business Development Sally White. “When we combine our expertise and networks through this collaborative relationship, we provide more opportunities for local businesses and amplify their voice.”

The work of the Manufacturing Counts partnership has already begun, with further updates on the collaboration to occur during NJMEP’s 2022 State-of-the-State Manufacturing Summit in May of 2022 in Trenton. Details of that event are expected to be announced soon.