EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

May 11, 2014

Column: Innovation keeps regional manufacturing strong

Massachusetts has long been known for its manufacturing history, beginning almost 200 years ago when mill workers spun and wove the first threads of our nation’s industrial history. Today, Massachusetts’ 3rd District continues that industrious tradition in ways those mill workers never could have imagined.

Just as mill cities like Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill and Fitchburg harnessed surrounding resources, technological advances and an abundant workforce to take a leading role in America’s Industrial Revolution, the 3rd District is once again primed to become one of the most innovative regions in America.

Massachusetts has always invested in and marshaled some of the best minds and resources in the world. The result is a modern, unique and dynamic ecosystem that combines academia, small and large businesses, and strong public/private partnerships. We have developed quality training and research endeavors, and produce cutting edge resources for varying industries, including biotechnology, clean energy and the military.

One important partner in this endeavor has been Massachusetts’ academic institutions, which have long played a major role in meeting workforce development needs.

In recent years Northern Essex Community College, Middlesex Community College, Greater Lawrence Vocational Tech, UMass Lowell and Mt. Wachusett Community College have all been awarded federal or state support to establish training and credential programs, which will send positive ripple effects through our manufacturing companies and workforce.

In addition to advanced education opportunities, the 3rd District is home to extraordinary research and development projects.

For example, Hanscom Air Force Base is one of the nation’s most innovative military installations. It is the birthplace of modern radar and airspace management and home to the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), one of the most reliable surveillance systems in the world. President Barack Obama recently committed to JSTARS, highlighting one of Hanscom’s core missions in support of our service members. Hanscom and other Massachusetts military installations like Natick Soldier Systems Center, work in partnership with local academic institutions and businesses to research and develop state of the art technology for our armed forces, often generating commercial applications as well.

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