Friday, October 30, 2015

Manufacturing Month: Q&A with Jodie Bollinger

Manufacturing has consistently been an important contributor to Frederick and Maryland's overall economy. Recognizing manufacturing as a targeted industry, the Office of Economic Development has a staff member dedicated to serving manufacturing businesses.

October is Manufacturing Month and today, Jodie Bollinger, Business Development Specialist is answering questions today about Frederick County's expanding and diverse manufacturing industry.

1. Manufacturing is a long Maryland tradition but in today's economy, 60% of Maryland's manufacturers are advanced - producing high mix, low volume, high technology products. How does this compare in Frederick County?

In Frederick County, more of our manufacturers are considered Advanced Manufacturers. I would estimate that more than 95% of the County's 170 manufacturers are engaged in advanced manufacturing. They accomplish this by:
  • Creating products with advanced manufacturing processes and methodologies
  • Using advanced manufacturing processes
  • Using advanced materials
  • Implementing advanced supply chain management techniques
  • Using sustainable practices
2. What trends are you seeing in manufacturers?

Being Lean and employing continuous improvement methods is critical in today's manufacturing environment.  Frederick's manufacturers are employing lean methods and using lean techniques daily. There are resources throughout the State and through our partners including the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the Regional Manufacturing Institute (RMI) and Maryland World Class Consortium (MWCC) that provide lean training, resources, networking opportunities and workshops all year long to benefit manufacturers. 

The use of 3-D printing and prototyping is gaining momentum as new products can be "brought to life" and manufactured very quickly. In addition, the Port of Baltimore's expansion will provide increased opportunities for our manufacturers.

3. How would you describe the manufacturing opportunities in Frederick County?

Our County's strategic location, highly skilled workforce, education system and transportation infrastructure all play a big role in why manufacturers choose Frederick County. Many existing manufactures have expanded and increased their workforce, such as Stulz-ATS, AstraZeneca, Miscellaneous Metals, Wright Manufacturing and Canam Steel. Wages for workers present a significant opportunity for residents to work locally. Wages in Frederick County's manufacturing jobs pay 30% more than Frederick County's private sector average.

Frederick benefits greatly from our multiplier effect. The multiplier effect for the manufacturing sector in Maryland is 2.7 which means that almost two additional jobs are created in the state for each new manufacturing job created. High-technology manufacturers have higher multiplier effects and generate more jobs through the economy. As more manufacturing jobs are being added, Frederick County's economy will continue to grow.

Locally, our office partners with the Frederick County Manufacturers Roundtable (FCMR) works to support the existing companies with Lunch, Learn and Tour events for manufacturing companies. These events are held at manufacturing facilities with presenters discussing topics for this industry. With the new addition of the EARN MD Training Grant, this provides local companies the opportunity to train unemployed or underemployed workers and provide leadership skills to existing employees.

4. What incentives exist for Frederick County manufacturers?

In addition to statewide incentives for Manufacturing, Frederick County offers the following locally:
  • Commercial and Industrial Business Tax Credit (new for 2015)
  • Business Personal Property Tax Exemption
  • Fast Track Permitting
  • New Jobs/Enhanced New Jobs Tax Credit
  • Customized Training and Recruitment Services
  • EARN MD Manufacturing Training Grant
  • Small Business Loan Guarantee (for 2016)
  • Potomac Edison/Maryland Energy Administration Programs 
5. What do you think the future holds for manufacturing in Frederick County?

Talent, technology and the ability to innovate will play a significant role in manufacturing competitiveness.  Expanding into new markets by exporting and diversifying operations, like Canam Steel did when they went into bridgework during the economic downtown, will be a factor in remaining a key player in today's global manufacturing economy. The healthcare industry and our emerging technology advances will be a great opportunity for our manufacturers now and into the future.