PLATTSBURGH — The Manufacturing sector is increasingly becoming the future of Plattsburgh’s economy.
With 8.4 percent of jobs and 777 individuals employed in manufacturing jobs as of 2017, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities for success and prosperity available to this area, according to President and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce Garry Douglas.
“Never waste a failure. They are always a good opportunity to grow and learn,” Douglas said.
The failure, of course, being the closure of Plattsburgh Air Force Base in 1995, gave Plattsburgh an opportunity to “redefine the economy of the region.”
As a U.S. suburb of Montreal and a scenic stop bi-secting the Quebec-New York Corridor, Plattsburgh is viewed by the Chamber as an extension of Canada’s economy, and a wonderful spot for Canadian manufacturing companies to set up shop.
The Chamber utilizes “red carpet teams”, or groups of experts assembled to establish a company’s entire subsidiary operation down to navigating insurance and maximizing profits.
“We’ve made ourselves the most attractive place to get these services, and we’ve done this with thousands of Quebec companies over the years,” Douglas said.
Douglas’ views about the future of manufacturing in Plattsburgh are positive, but met with some resignation. With the recent closing of Intrapac Plastics and numerous small businesses throughout Plattsburgh, locals have become skeptical of how effective pumping money into the manufacturing base would be.
The Chamber plans to use $43 million provided by New York State to vamp up the Aerospace and Transportation cluster labeled as “Montreal’s US Airport and Aerospace Park” that would be located in the unutilized location of the old PAFB flight line.
This would include 11 projects with focus on “an international cargo facility, the rehabilitation of hangars, and new and rehabilitated industrial space with flight line access.”
An additional $125 million will be pumped into the fruition of a 20-year vision of a “synergistic, three-pronged cluster including rail, road and aerospace,” which will utilize the space of Bombardier, Nova Bus and Prevost production facilities.
“Manufacturing is the thing everyone most wants because it has the greatest multiplier in the region than any other kind of activity in terms of purchase of goods and services and payroll, Douglas said.
“There are some estimates that there is a five-times multiplier that goes with manufacturing, which is more than you get out of other sectors.”
Sure, all of this sounds appealing to companies wishing to venture into the North Country for their latest business project, but how is manufacturing made appealing to the most important aspect of the industry: the workers?
“Manufacturing is not like it was in the old days,” Douglas said. “It’s not banging iron in a forge anymore.”
In fact, organizations such as Champlain Valley Technical and ETS Employment Agencies are trying to make careers in manufacturing more alluring as well as accessible.
The goal is to broaden the manufacturing workforce by getting more women involved and expanding the type of employees hired.
According to Douglas, a job in manufacturing may not mean back breaking physical labor. It could be engineering or more technical-based.
The recently enacted MHAB project also seeks to widen the amount of workers employed in manufacturing by mandating companies hire rehabilitated individuals with prior criminal records or substance abuse issues.
“We haven’t lost our manufacturing base. It’s changed, things have left but new things have come,” Douglas said.
“We have this dynamic that we can grow our manufacturing base, we’re going to build a future based on manufacturing.”