Home Hudson Valley The case for manufacturing

The case for manufacturing

Central Hudson President and CEO Steven Lant, Viking Industry principal Richard Croce, Assemblyman Marc Molinaro and Council of Industry Executive Vice President Harold King.

A packed house. Robust applause. A sector on the move. Manufacturing.

Do not adjust your sets.

Manufacturing is supposed to spawn analogies to wakes, if not full-blown funerals. Americans now make money without making anything, right?

But 102 manufacturers and those who support them gathered at the Poughkeepsie Grand May 19 to assert manufacturing was, is and always will be an economic driver, “creating rather than redistributing wealth,” in the words of Harold King, The Council of Industry executive vice president who served as emcee. “Reports of its demise are exaggerated.”

The council feted Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, who has vowed to streamline the regulatory process and who stated at the breakfast his plans for “fiscal responsibility and a pro-growth agenda.” He earned the council’s Public Sector Award.

King seconded Molinaro with an “amen” and told the assembled, “On the private-sector side we had a long list of potential honorees. When we looked to honor someone from the public list, it was a pretty short list.”

Molinaro – a member of the Assembly minority task force on manufacturing – said that by assisting manufacturing, the region would benefit with upgraded infrastructure and decreased property taxes. He repeated the assertion three times for emphasis, to laughter and applause. Molinaro, a third-term assemblyman who is running for the Dutchess County executive slot being vacated by William Steinhaus and who was identified as a Red Hook Little League coach, said, “Hopefully by streamlining regulations and reducing the burden on business, we will see real prosperity and real growth. You –” he pointed toward the crowd “– create the jobs.”

The point was reinforced by Steven Lant, president and CEO of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., who said, “Prosperity comes from good jobs and manufacturing provides these.” Lant also serves a chairman of the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. “Our region has an awful lot to offer: a stellar labor force, the best-educated workers in the nation and an excellent quality of life.”

The council noted, “Central Hudson has a long history of industry support, has been a member of the Council of Industry for nearly a century and has played a key role in promoting economic development, particularly in the manufacturing sector, for many decades.”

Among the statistics that held the crowd’s interest: in 2009 a manufacturing worker earned $74,000 per year, while those in all other sectors averaged $63,000.

King noted manufacturing’s “multiplier effect,” wherein a dollar of manufacturing activity promotes $1.43 in economic activity. He also noted the U.S., far from being one giant rust belt, manufactures 21 percent of the world’s products, compared with 15 percent for China and 12 percent for Japan. If American manufacturing alone were an economy, King said, it would be the ninth largest in the world. “We tell anyone who will listen about the importance of manufacturing,” he said.

On cue and on message, New York Times Nobel laureate columnist Paul Krugman the next day wrote: “I used to joke that Americans made a living  by selling each other houses, which they paid for with money borrowed from China. Manufacturing, once America’s greatest strength, seemed to be in terminal decline. But that may be changing. Manufacturing is one of the bright spots of a generally disappointing recovery, and there are signs – preliminary, but hopeful, nonetheless – that a sustained comeback may be under way.”

The Private Sector Award went to Richard Croce, president and co-founder of Viking Industries Inc. in New Paltz, a manufacturer of corrugated paper products. Croce is also past president of the Council of Industry Board of Directors, past president of the Ulster County Development Corp. Board of Directors and a member of the Ulster County Legislature. As winner, Viking joins past Manufacturing Champion Award winners Taylor Thomson of Kingston-based Millrock Technologies, makers of freeze dryers; Jack Effron of the Poughkeepsie-based food-ingredient maker Efco Products; and Roger Smith of Pawling-based Pawling Corp., makers of airtight and security doors. Effron and Thomson were present and stood to acknowledge applause.

Event sponsors included Central Hudson and Rondout Savings Bank. Supporting sponsors included The Chazen Cos., Mid- Hudson Workshop for the Disabled, and Viking Industries.





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