Building an advanced manufacturing sector in Berkshire County poses a challenge, but not necessarily an insurmountable one. That was in essence the message of a Donahue Institute for Economic and Public Policy Research study released Friday before an audience of Berkshire business leaders and elected officials.
Daniel Hodge of the Donahue Institute at UMass echoed others in the field in saying that workforce training specific to the needs of manufacturers is the key to building an advanced sector in the Berkshires. The county has a rich manufacturing history but one that was primarily built around large industries like Sprague and General Electric. The report noted that there were 175 manufacturing businesses in the county, an encouraging number, and they are spread around a variety of disciplines. Enabling them to thrive and attracting others involves providing a workforce that is tailored to them, which is best done through good communication.
Berkshire County has colleges in MCLA and BCC and high schools in McCann and ideally a new or upgraded Taconic that will help make this connection. Manufacturers who went overseas are finding that the grass isn’t necessarily greener (in China it is as brown as the air) and may be receptive to returning. Advanced manufacturing has a bright future in the United States and the Berkshires can be a part of it.