Essential manufacturers have been open safely since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. How? They have used their innate skills for quick process change and adaptation to create safe work environments in a rapidly changing and challenging environment. It’s time we both recognize this and learn from this as a nation.
Manufacturing is vital for our recovery on two levels. Manufacturers can lead the way to our safe reopening. And, more important in the long term, they must lead the way to a robust and sustainable economic revival.
First, let us acknowledge they are on the frontlines of keeping our communities moving forward. They have risked much to stay open safely — in many cases, completely revamping their operations to protect their workers. They have lived the credo that people come first while they make essential products. They have done so quietly, without fanfare. It’s time we applaud them. It’s also time we learn from them.
MACNY has been working with an innovative subgroup of manufacturers in the Mohawk Valley and in Central New York to help form the “Keeping People Safe and Factories Running” program. This state-of-the-art approach is now available to any manufacturer in our region — and soon throughout New York state. It is built on solid safety procedures, process change, and an employer pledge that links innovative manufacturers together to both learn and implement best practices to keep their people safe and run their operations. I am convinced that this complex problem needs an integrated solution. We now can offer that to you and those in our state and our country. I have to thank many individuals who made this happen — too many to mention here — but they were tremendous in making this effort a reality. You can learn more at https://www.macny.org/keep-people-safe-and-factories-running/
Manufacturing is more than safe. We have learned it is more vital than ever to our nation’s economy and security. How is it possible that we let vital products like pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment (or PPE), vital technologies, and our food supply move to other countries when we need them to be produced here? When we needed masks, they were being produced in China — ironically, in the very province where COVID-19 first started its dangerous spread to the entire world. We need to make many more things in our country. We need it for our security during this time of pandemics. We need to do so to put millions of people back to work. We need it because it is both sustainable and environmentally conscious to shrink supply chains and ensure they are of the highest quality. I am sorry it took a pandemic to tell us these things. However, we must learn our lesson and never let this happen again.
It’s time to honor our manufacturing heroes. And, it is time to put Americans back to work in our factories using the newest technologies and best people from all walks of life. Manufacturing has never stopped being the backbone of our country. However, our nation has forgotten that we are only great if we make and grow things. Let’s get back to work safely.
Randy Wolken is president and CEO of MACNY, The Manufacturers Association, a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) association representing more than 300 businesses and organizations across Central and Upstate New York.