February 26, 2014

Clinton County transportation-manufacturing cluster initiative underway

PLATTSBURGH — Efforts are underway to fully develop a transportation-manufacturing cluster in Clinton County.

The Development Corp. President and CEO Paul Grasso said the process started when they hired Montreal-based CAI Global Group to act as a consultant on a regional asset-mapping project. 

During that effort, it became obvious that one of the region’s strengths was in mass-transportation manufacturing.

As described by Harvard professor Michael Porter in 1990, a true industry cluster includes manufacturers, suppliers and distributors but also economic-development groups, schools, research institutions and workforce trainers, Grasso explained.

CAI Global President and CEO Howard Silverman said he is quite familiar with the concept of industrial clusters, as several examples have coalesced in Quebec since the late 1980s, including in the aerospace and information-technology industries.

The Development Corp. Economic Planner Erin Hynes said they are acting as a facilitator for the initiative. 

“To do this properly, it has to be driven by (the) industry,” she said.

Silverman said the North Country already has two great mass-transportation-manufacturing anchors in Bombardier Transportation and Nova Bus, both located in Plattsburgh. 


Once mass-transportation manufacturing was identified as an asset, the next step was to see if those anchors were interested in driving the cluster initiative, which they were. 

“It is definitely something that will work in Plattsburgh,” Silverman said. “That is seen by the willingness of the industry leaders to take control.”

While several of their suppliers are here already, a cluster initiative could attract even more, he said. 

The first meeting, in November 2013, included representatives of consultant CAI Global; the Development Corp.; Plattsburgh firms Bombardier, Nova Bus, B3CG Interconnect, Camoplast Rockland, Cintube International, Solve Composites, Key Logistics and Spencer ARL; and General Composites of Willsboro.

The next step is formation of two subcommittees, in the fields of supply-chain management and human-resource development. 

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