New Jersey Crafts Manufacturing Resurgence

New Jersey has made a big comeback in advanced manufacturing, thanks to innovative programs to retain and attract companies.

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With the help of aggressive retention programs and training assistance, New Jersey's manufacturing sector is bulking up.

The Garden State was home to more than 20,000 manufacturers and 247,000 manufacturing jobs at the end of 2011. Manufacturing contributed more than $38 billion to the state's $444 billion Gross Domestic Product in 2011. The state's advanced manufacturing cluster, which includes chemical, pharmaceutical manufacturing, computer and electronics, machinery, and transportation equipment industries, employs more than 127,000 workers.

In addition to its well-known roster of pharmaceutical companies, the state is home to major operations of such manufacturers as Lockheed Martin, BASF, Honeywell and Unilever. And with well-known names like Campbell Soup, Pinnacle Foods, Kraft, Mars and Ferraro Foods, New Jersey is also a major food production and processing center.

Location, Workforce Boost Manufacturing

Several competitive advantages make manufacturing attractive in New Jersey. The state's location on the Eastern Seaboard provides access to more than 100 million consumers within a 24-hour drive, and its world-class distribution network of highways, seaports and airports moves goods to markets around the continent and the world.

In 2011, exports from New Jersey totaled $38.2 billion, up more than 18 percent from 2010, ranging from chemicals to aircraft parts to pharmaceuticals products.

A key advantage for New Jersey is its highly skilled workforce, says Robert Loderstedt, president and CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP), a not-for-profit organization that helps small and medium-size manufacturers become more efficient and profitable.

“The level of education among our manufacturing workforce is a great advantage,” Loderstedt says. “We are making great strides in showing young people that there are real careers with good-paying jobs in manufacturing in New Jersey.”

Through a number of incentive packages, New Jersey has also been able to attract new companies and assist existing industry with expansions.

Among the recent successes:

Puratos Corp., which makes ingredients for bakeries, patisseries and chocolate makers, is building a $42 million manufacturing facility in Pennsauken. The new 171,000-square-foot, energy-efficient facility will employ about 190 workers and permit the company to better serve its customers across the country. A joint state, county and township effort was largely responsible for keeping Puratos in New Jersey, according to company officials.

Church & Dwight, a maker of household products, including the iconic Arm & Hammer baking soda, has chosen a site in Ewing Township for a new headquarters. The state assisted with a $13.5 million business retention grant that helped keep the company in New Jersey. With the incentive, the company will invest more than $27 million in its expanded operations and add 130 new employees.

PNY Technologies, a worldwide maker of memory upgrade modules and flash memory cards, relocated its headquarters to a 550,000-square-foot facility in Parsippany, and added 100 jobs to its 325-person workforce.

Revolution Foods, which delivers healthy meals and nutrition education to schools across the country, wanted to expand into the Northeast and was considering New Jersey and two other states to establish its regional operations. Working with officials in Elizabeth and with the state, Revolution selected a 25,000-square-foot facility with all the amenities the company sought. Lisa K. Miller, regional vice president for Revolution Foods, says the move was a positive experience for the company, which serves nearly 9,000 meals to 16 schools in New Jersey and four in New York.


“This is an ideal location, close to the highways, so we can reach the schools we serve,” says Miller.

Miller noted the cooperation from state and the city agencies and the assistance it received from nearby Union County College in helping to identify qualified workers through its Retail Skills Center. The company plans to expand to serve schools in Philadelphia, Pa. and Albany, N.Y. in the near future. It employs 39 workers, and expects to have 85 to 90 employees in 2013.

Boosting Profits

The state's manufacturers can take advantage of other programs to help them become more efficient and profitable.

The not-for-profit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program works with small to mid-size companies on cost-saving strategies and growth initiatives, such as LEAN manufacturing and other business processes.

“Small manufacturers are really the backbone of the manufacturing supply chain,” Loderstedt says.

In New Jersey, 83 percent of manufacturers employ 50 or fewer workers, making services such as the NJEMP a vital component in their success.


New Jersey Headwear Corp. in Newark took advantage of an NJMEP evaluation of its operations, which led to the company's participation in a LEAN manufacturing program that helped increase revenue by $750,000, cut $1.2 million in costs and create 25 jobs.

The company makes union label apparel, including hats, shirts and other embroidered apparel and accessories promoted to unions, political campaigns, government agencies and socially responsible organizations. Working with the NJMEP helped New Jersey Headwear be more efficient and reduce its manufacturing interval time.

“NJMEP has been excellent to work with,” says Mitch Cahn, president of New Jersey Headwear. “This training program has significantly transformed our business into a more profitable and competitive business."



Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

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Fri, 10/27/2017 - 19:55