Phil Castle, The Business Times
Eric Goertz stresses the importance of making connections among manufacturers. But Goertz also knows manufacturers face a challenge in finding qualified workers.
That’s why the second version of an event that brings manufacturers together for educational presentations and networking also will focus on workforce development.
“It’s the No. 1 issue for manufacturers across the board,” says Goertz, chairman of the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance West Chapter.
CAMA West has scheduled a manufacturing summit for April 15 in Grand Junction. The summit will offer keynote presentations and breakout sessions as well as a trade show and a networking event dubbed the B2B Lounge.
The inaugural manufacturing summit last year attracted more than 150 participants. Goertz hopes for increased attendance this year. Given the new affiliation with the statewide group, he also expects to draw participants from a larger geographic area.
CAMA West, the first chapter for the membership organization, constitutes the latest step in the evolution from what once was the Mesa County Manufacturer’s Council and then Western Colorado Manufacturing Alliance.
Members of the alliance opted to join CAMA, says Goertz, who also works as vice president of operations at the Capco military contractor in Grand Junction. “We believe it’s a great affiliation to be a part of.”
Membership offers Western Colorado manufacturers a closer tie to Front Range companies and the potential for increased business as well as the resources offered by the statewide group, he said. Moreover, CAMA West has a say in the operation of the statewide group with two seats on its board of directors.
Regardless of its name or affiliation, the objective of the local manufacturing group has remained the same over the years, Goertz said, and that’s to help manufacturers grow their businesses.
The upcoming summit constitutes part of the ongoing efforts to achieve that objective, he said.
The summit will begin with two keynote presentations. Dan Griswold, president of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, will discuss ways to connect Western Colorado manufacturers to global markets through foreign-trade zones.
Officials with the City of Grand Junction are considering the benefits and costs of establishing a foreign trade zone. FTZs are specially designated areas within the United States considered to be outside of U.S. Customs territory for tariff purposes. FTZs allow domestic companies, usually manufacturers, to import materials without paying a duty until the materials leave the zone. The benefits to FTZs for local governments and economies include increased exports, foreign investments, job creation and reduced incentives for manufacturers to locate facilities in other countries.
Griswold also is expected to discuss the trend of manufacturers bringing facilities and jobs back to the United States.
Steve Puckett, director of corporate human resources for the Express Employment Professionals staffing service, will lead the second keynote presentation in exploring ways to bride skills gaps in the workplace.
What’s been called an “ignite” session will offer a brief overview of the business tips that will be covered in afternoon breakout sessions.
Three breakout sessions are scheduled, each session offering four different presentations. Those presentations will cover everything from lean manufacturing techniques to supply chain optimization to safety on the floor. Additional presentations will offer information about different generations in the workplace, managing an audit and the considerations that go into expansion.
The summit also will include an exhibition featuring booths set up by participating manufacturers as well as the businesses that provide goods and services to manufacturers, Goertz says.
The summit will conclude with a business-to-business networking event.
The manufacturing sector in Mesa County remains strong, Goertz says, but also faces challenges in finding qualified applicants to fill openings as well as coping with slow Internet speeds.
The manufacturing sector has a solid foundation upon which to build, though, he said, with the efforts of Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College to train workers and the ongoing support of local organizations and government entities.
“There are a lot of bright spots in the community.”
The CAMA West Manufacturing Summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 15 at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St. in Grand Junction. Admission is $75 for CAMA members, $100 for others. Online registration is available at www.camamembership.org/event-1847304.