WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Manufacturing is growing in western Massachusetts again, but it is not the kind of industry that our region’s economy once depended upon. Manufacturing is advanced and based on computer technology. Those working in the field are expected to have more advanced skills than those who worked in manufacturing in generations past.
The latest manufacturing technology is on display in West Springfield this week at the EASTEC trade show, held every other year at the Eastern States Exposition. This year, more than 700 exhibitors from all over the country showcased their services and products. Attendees were mainly from Massachusetts and Connecticut and represented businesses interested in buying or learning about the latest technology in their field.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, State Senator Eric Lesser, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt were among those there Tuesday to get a look at some of the latest technology. They hoped to raise awareness of the skills gap and dire need for manufacturing jobs in Massachusetts. “There’s actually more than 7,000 vacant positions in the advanced manufacturing world because our local schools and colleges are not producing enough graduates to fill the available jobs. Think about the lost opportunity for us,” said Senator Lesser.
Lt. Gov. Polito added that it’s not just about placing skilled workers in jobs – it’s also about attracting manufacturing businesses to be located in Massachusetts. She said the Commonwealth is known as the most innovative state in the country. “Pretty sophisticated pool of people who are researching, designing, innovating new ways to solve our current challenges and problems but we also want to be a place in Massachusetts that we can make the things that people think of,” Lt. Gov. Polito told 22News.
One exhibitor was based in Agawam. Marubeni Citizen-Cincon sells machinery and manufactures accessories. The company also does its part in training people for this industry. Accessories Sales Manager Jim Cepican said many young people get the wrong idea about manufacturing, thinking it’s a dirty job. He said that’s simply not true anymore: “”We try to help out. we try to do training classes for students, because we know that’s the future.”
EASTEC isn’t just about the manufacturing business: It also means big business for local restaurants and hotels in West Springfield during exhibition days.