Manufacturing in Buffalo still punches above its weight

One of the greatest privileges of my role at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has been the opportunity to see firsthand the manufacturing operations preset here in Western New York.  I’ve observed so much cool stuff being manufactured right in my own backyard. It’s like an extended episode of “How It’s Made.”

Photo courtesy of the UB Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics

On this upcoming Manufacturing Day, Friday, October 4, it is important to remind ourselves of our industrial heritage and the economic future relative to the manufacturing sector. The purpose of Manufacturing Day is to address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is. The day also highlights some of the common issues that manufacturers face, including skilled labor shortage, connecting with future generations, and taking charge of manufacturing’s public image. This blog post is meant to highlight the outsize role manufacturing still plays in Buffalo Niagara’s economy.

What I’ve also seen is the changing face of manufacturing. Gone are many of the dirty manufacturing jobs that fill imaginations. Today, many manufacturing operations are innovative, clean, and high-tech, representing both the adaptability of the economic sector and its continuing importance to our regional economy.

Manufacturing plays a larger role in our economy regionally than compared to the nation. The region has a competitive advantage in manufacturing due to the higher-than-average concentration of firms in the sector, as agglomerated economic sectors compete more successfully. As such, the sector employs over 51,000 people, or about 10% of regional jobs. This makes manufacturing the third largest employment sector in our economy.

Photo courtesy of Power Drives Inc.

Manufacturing also forms the foundation of our region’s exports. Studies have found that exporting firms and export-intensive industries generally pay higher wages and bring outside money into the region. Of the $7.1 billion in total regional exports, manufacturing accounted for over 60% of them. The 1,600+ firms in the manufacturing sector that contribute to this number therefore play an important role in improving the quality and quantity of high-wage jobs in the region.

Manufacturing will continue to be an integral part of Buffalo Niagara’s economy well into the future. To ensure the manufacturing sector can continue to thrive, the Partnership convenes our quarterly Manufacturing Council where sector leaders can address the primary challenges they face.

To celebrate National Manufacturing Month, the Partnership will highlight member manufacturers throughout Buffalo Niagara. Watch for our posts on social media detailing just how important manufacturing is to our regional economy, and follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #MFGinBN.