Manufacturing Innovation Fund Targets Workforce, Technology
Since 2015, Connecticut’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund has invested $90 million in the sector, helping almost 2,200 companies create or retain more than 21,900 jobs in the state.
These findings are included in the 2022 Manufacturing Innovation Fund Report, which details its support of the state’s critical manufacturing sector, including facilitating access to financial resources, technical expertise, and skilled workers.
“Our manufacturers appreciate the fund’s unique ability to help them explore what new technologies to embrace, then to help them integrate those advancements into their operations,” Paul Lavoie, the state’s chief manufacturing officer, wrote in the report.
“And they are passionate about the MIF’s support of key workforce development initiatives—as they view their ability to attract, retain, and retrain talent as critical to their success.”
The innovation fund is administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development with direction from an advisory board representing public and private sector stakeholders.
Over 28,600 incumbent workers were retrained through MIF-funded programs, according to the report. And an additional 18,351 Connecticut students engaged in programs across 167 towns and cities.
A significant portion of the funding comes from private sector and third-party investments, which generate $1.70 for every MIF dollar.
“Funding effective workforce development initiatives has always been core to the mission of the MIF,” the report notes. “But it has never been more critical.”
“We continue to focus on strengthening every aspect of the talent ‘supply chain’—from attracting young recruits to retraining seasoned workers.”
Since 2015, the Manufacturing Voucher Program—one of the fund’s most popular programs—provided 600 companies over $27 million in matching grants, creating or retaining 1,532 jobs.
And for every dollar in MVP grants, recipients invested another $3 in upgrades to their own equipment and processes.
“Recently, the program has helped manufacturers keep pace with the rising cost of state-of-the-art technologies by extending matching grants of up to $100,000 to obtain new equipment or master new processes,” the report said.
The report also detailed innovation fund programs aimed at developing the next generation of the workforce.
The Connecticut Department of Labor’s apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships program drew $11 million in investments targeting training resources and wage subsidies.
The program currently has 818 individuals participating and has assisted 232 companies.
“That’s a win-win for the participating employers—as well as the apprentices and pre-apprentices who have gained experience while earning a salary through this program,” the report said.
The innovation fund also introduced the Engineering Internship Program, designed to support engineering graduates working in the state.
The $650,000 investment to the EIP provides small- to mid-sized manufacturing companies a wage subsidy of $3,500 per intern to cover up to half their summer wages.
The MIF invested over $7 million in 35 distressed communities since 2019.
“Across every county in the state, the MIF builds on Connecticut’s traditional hubs of manufacturing advancement,” the report said.
“The MIF has given special consideration to proposals from distressed municipalities, targeted investment communities, public investment communities, enterprise zones, and manufacturing innovation districts.
“These funds have been critical to spurring municipal revitalization, job growth, and employment opportunities.”
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima—a member of innovation fund’s advisory board—called MIF “vital” to the success of Connecticut’s manufacturing sector.
“Growing our workforce, developing our talent, and revitalizing manufacturing is critical to our state’s success,” he said.
“And the targeted investments from the MIF help move us in the exact direction we need to be going.”
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.