Manufacturing Coalition-Task Team
8. Long range manufacturing support plan
Develop a long-range plan for supporting and expanding manufacturing in Northwest Connecticut.
This Initiative Supports Goal 6 - Manufacturing
4A. Career oriented education
Encourage and promote education and training by trade schools, Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NCCC) and UConn-Torrington.
4B. Workforce training
Maintain and expand current programs engaged in workforce training at area high schools, trade schools, NCCC and UConn-Torrington.
5. Employer workforce needs
Evaluate and document workforce needs of regional employers.
This Initiative Supports Goal 4 - Education and Workforce, Goal 6 - Manufacturing, and Goal 7 - Small Businesses, Services and Retail Sector
Meeting Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, January 25, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Bill Baxter, Sabrina Beck, Peter Bevivino, Bill Burgess, Susie Clayton, Fran Delaney, Ed Drapp, Rick Lynn, Mark Lyon, Laura McCarthy, Rich Meinert, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan, Don Stein, Kevin Sullivan, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Steve Zarrella
Guests: Michael Rooke, Thomas Dzialo, Sharon Gusky, Tara Jo Holmberg, Mark Waterhouse, Bob Axon, Larry Pomerleau, Dawn Pietrefase, Pam Kaczer, Robin Ledversis, Hilary Delage, Teresa Pagcin, Janice Beekman, Sherie Power, Ben Paletsky, Bonnie Nadler, Angela Brightly, William Pizzuto, Diane DeGray, Patty Hannon, Kim Roland, Michael Lisowski
III. NW CT Manufacturer's Coalition
Sabrina Beck, Chair of NW CT Manufacturer's Coalition - Sabrina provided a brief overview of the NW CT Manufacturing Coalition. The group meets at the NW CT Chamber of Commerce once a month on a Friday morning to discuss common issues and concerns. Attracting competent workers is the number one concern. They are looking for workers with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. Some skills are required, but in many cases skill training can be provided by the companies.
Altek Company (Sabrina Beck) - Altek assembles computer circuit boards at their plant located in Torrington. The company started in 1972 and currently employs 160 full time workers. The biggest challenge is attracting qualified workers. Collaboration with Oliver Wolcott Tech and NW CT Community College has been beneficial in training employees.
West State Mechanical (Fran Delaney) - West State Mechanical is located in East Litchfield and provides service for HVAC. They have been in operation since 1982 and currently have 14 employees. The biggest challenge is an eroding customer base.
Seitz (Hilary Delage) - Seitz has been in business for 67 years. Products are made using injection molding. They currently have 140 employees. Their greatest need is for skilled engineers and mechanics.
Alcoa (Paul Masucci, Bonnie Nadler) - Alcoa has been in Winchester since 1982 and employs 140 workers. They produce aluminum jet engine parts. Many airlines are replacing their fleets, so they have been busy.
FuelCell Energy (Michael Lisowski and Kim Roland) - FCE is in the process of expanding their Torrington manufacturing facility by 100,000 square feet. They produce clean energy fuel cells and have a backlog of orders. They employ 620 workers worldwide with 530 in NW CT and 265 in the Torrington facility. They started in Danbury in 1969. The biggest challenge is attracting qualified workers.
RBC (Pam Kaczer) - RBC produces ball bearings and currently has 185 employees. They have been in NW CT since 2004. They are seeking competent and capable workers with a good work ethic. Skills as machinists, toolmakers and technicians are needed. Global competition has pressured their profit margins.
Lauren Zordan (NW CT Chamber) - Lauren has been working with school guidance counselors and businesses to create networking opportunities for students to learn more about job opportunities in NW CT through School-to-Career programs.
IV. Regional Education Updates/Initiatives
Ed Drapp, Region 6 Superintendent - Dedicated MakerSpace areas within the Region 6 schools encourage students to create, collaborate, invent and learn. The activities are unstructured and dynamic allowing for students to control the direction of the explorations. Students develop problem solving skills, learn to collaborate, make decisions and take risks.
Region 6 also partners with Bristol Tech to allow juniors and seniors to earn certifications as a plumber, electrician, or earn Microsoft certification. Students earn joint high school credits at both Bristol Tech and Wamogo.
Bob Axon, Oliver Wolcott Tech Principal - Oliver Wolcott Tech offers training for 12 trades for students in grades 9-12 at their Torrington campus. OWT combines academic and skills training for the trades and prepares students to be career and college ready. They work closely with regional employers to allow interns an opportunity to get first-hand practical experiences. Bob also serves as the Director for Bristol Tech which prepares junior and senior students in 6 trades. Bob sees the need for more skilled workers and works closely with the NW CT Manufacturing Coalition.
Larry Pomerleau, Oliver Wolcott Tech Instructor - OWT now offers 9 credentials programs in precision machining, NIMS credentials and lean manufacturing. They have added over $850,000 in new equipment to train students with the latest technology.
Mike Rooke, NCCC President - Mike was recently selected as the new president of Northwestern CT Community College. He has extensive experience in manufacturing and was at Manchester and Tunxis Community Colleges prior to coming to NCCC. His background is in engineering and manufacturing. NCCC now offers five manufacturing courses with support from National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. The latest NIMS class from Torrington High School had a 100% passing rate. NCCC has worked closely with the NW CT Manufacturers Coalition to align skills training with industry needs.
Bill Pizzuto & Angela Brightly, UConn-Torrington - Bill is the Director of both the UConn-Torrington and UConn-Waterbury campuses. Angela Brightly is the Associate Director at UConn-Torrington. UConn-Torrington now offers several online hybrid courses allowing for more flexibility for students with part-time jobs. Enrollment has been dropping at the UConn-Torrington branch, but has been increasing at the UConn-Waterbury branch. Public transportation is a major issue for many students.
Jonathan Costa, Education Connection Program Director - Jonathan announced that Education Connection will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the spring. Education Connection is one of six regional educational service centers throughout the state. They offer program support for local public school systems in STEM, and NSF "Skills 21" training. A Saturday morning Lego League program has been very popular attracting students from multiple school systems in NW CT. Jon has also worked with several school systems with declining enrollments to explore options for cooperation with neighboring districts.
Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, Elinor Carbone, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan, Erin Wilson, Don Stein, Sabrina Beck, Dick Labich, Pat Mechare, Ned Moore
II. Task Team Updates
Manufacturing: Sabrina Beck
1. Doug welcomed Sabrina who recently became the chairman of the NW CT Manufacturer's Coalition. Sabrina is a co-owner and vice president of Altek in Torrington.
2. Sabrina identified the need for skilled workers as the highest priority for regional manufacturers. The coalition has been working very closely with Northwestern CT Community College (NCCC) to identify the skills needed by manufacturers. One major challenge is the variety of skills required based on each manufacturer's needs. NCCC has been developing curriculum identified as common to most manufacturer's needs. Specific training will also be required by the individual manufacturers. The Oliver Wolcott Technical School has also been actively involved in supporting regional manufacturers.
3. A NW CT Manufacturer's Summit will be held on September 12th.
NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Elinor Carbone, Rich Meinert, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan
I. Task Team Updates
1. Lew Chappell has recently changed jobs and is no longer working at BD.
2. Sabrina Beck (Altek) is now serving as the Acting Chair of the Manufacturers' Coalition.
3. JoAnn will seek someone on the Manufacturers' Coalition for the NWCTEDC Board of Directors.
NWCTEDC Minutes -Board of Directors
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Susan Clayton, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, JoAnn Ryan, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Jocelyn Ayer, Frank Chiaramonte, Leona LeJeune, John Maxwell, Richard Labich, Bill Burgess, Lew Chappel, Fiona de Merell, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Stephen Silver, Larry Sweeney, Susan Dichter, Rob Michalik
II. Task Team Reports
F. Manufacturing- Lew Chappel
- Coalition continues to meet every month.
- Working on creating a viable workforce.
- Pre-Manufacturing program at NWCCC just graduated 10 students.
- There will be a tour of manufacturers on February 21st.
- 17 students from Torrington High School recently toured Altek and BD and learned about all the different career opportunities.
- 12 manufacturers will participate in "Manufacture Your Future" event at Oliver Wolcott Technical School on November 20th in collaboration with OWTS's annual Open House for middle school students and their parents.
H. Workforce Development & Education- Leona LeJeune & JoAnn Ryan
- NWCCC is developing their connections plan to help create a seamless transition from middle school to high school and then college. Naugatuck Valley has a seamless plan in place already.
- JoAnn Ryan: Chamber is trying to promote their restaurants with Whine & Unwind and retailers with Retail Therapy, both networking events held at businesses after hours to gain exposure for the business. Bill Baxter is working with the Chamber on getting the word out about training grants. Young Entrepreneurs Academy is developing entrepreneurs- ages 12-17 years old.
NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, David Dean, Lou Helt, Doug Parker, Rich Minert, Rick Lynn, Leo Paul, Pat Power, Lew Chappell, Sherri Dadomo
3. Task Team Updates
Manufacturing Coalition/Task Team- Lew Chappell gave the update. The 'Manufacturing Coalition' continues to meet monthly. Their annual meeting will be held on September 13th from 7:30-9:30AM at PSam's in Torrington. The team continues to work closely with Northwestern CT Community College and local high schools to mitigate the negative perceptions about working in a factory. There are many opportunities for young people to find jobs in manufacturing without the need for college. Many of the regional manufacturers have programs in place to fund tuition for college courses for their employees. Educating the parents is a key focus because they influence their children. Lew said a manufacturing road show to area high schools inviting parents and students to attend is one idea.
NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Burgess, Susan Clayton, Fiona de Merell, Rick Lynn, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Bill Pratt, Stephen Silver, Dwain Snow, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Amy Wynn, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, Guy Rovezzi, JoAnn Ryan, Bob Axelrod, Sharon Gusky, Michelle Cook, Roberta Willis, Ben Toby, Dan Boyd, Neil English, Jake Horne, John Kissko, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Rob Michaud
4. CT Higher Education Initiatives
Speaker: CT State Representative Roberta Willis (64th District, Chair of Higher Education)
- The focus at the state level is on workforce development and college completion rates.
- The challenges in CT: the course completion and graduation rate is low at community colleges as well as state universities.
- College graduates earn more (average - $75,000) than non-college graduates.
- By 2020, 70% of residents in CT will need a post-secondary degree to obtain employment.
- The highest paying careers right now are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math); business; and healthcare (rapidly growing field in CT).
- Another goal is to support and encourage entrepreneurship, especially with younger residents.
- The state is currently developing a strategic plan for higher education and align the high school common core with colleges and community colleges.
5. Fuel Cell Energy Presentation
Speakers: Ben Toby, Vice President, Eastern Region & International Sales, Fuel Cell Energy and
Dan Boyd, Business Development Manager, Fuel Cell Energy
A. FCE is an integrated fuel cell company
- Design, Manufacture, Sell, Engineer & Construct, Operate
B. Leader in Fuel Cells
- Currently manufacture 70MW annually in Torrington
- World's largest fuel cell projects under construction (59MW Hwasung City, South Korea and 14.9MW Bridgeport, CT)
- Drive product pricing below grid costs without incentives
- Increase volume and scale
- Production rate has increased by 25% in 2013 and we are currently producing 70MWs of fuel cells annually
- Employment at FCE is also growing, we have over 600 employees worldwide
- FCE has over 240 employees in Danbury and 295 in Torrington from 82 different towns in 7 of the 8 counties in CT and growing
- Offers on-site training for employees
E. Business opportunities
- Cost Effective
- Typically cheaper than utility power in CT
F. Virtually no pollutants
- Easy to site in congested/urban areas
G. Highest electrical efficiency vs. alternatives
- More power from a given unit of fuel
- 47%-70% electrical efficiency
- Up to 90% total efficiency with Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
H. Energy Security
- Continuous on-site power
I. Fuel Flexible
- Clean & abundant natural gas or renewable biogas
6. Manufacturing Coalition Update
CEDS Objective 8 - Develop a long-range plan for supporting and expanding manufacturing in Northwest Connecticut.
Speaker: Lauren Smith, Program Director, NW CT Chamber of Commerce
- The Coalition has been meeting monthly, chaired by Lew Chappell, Operations Manager at BD.
- They are currently working on a comprehensive list of job openings in manufacturing across Litchfield County, including schooling and training necessary and salary guidelines.
- The Coalition is working closely with Northwestern CT Community College (NCCC) to develop their pre-manufacturing program curriculum and helping to place graduates with companies in NW CT.
7. Manufacturing Initiatives at NWCCC
Speaker: Professor Sharon B. Gusky, Interim Division Director & Engineering Advisor, Northwestern CT Community College
- NCCC currently has a partnership program with CL&P that accepts 14 students/year. Students take online courses through NCCC and intern with CL&P.
- NCCC is currently applying for an advanced technology grant to create a solid works lab.
- NCCC is working with regional manufacturers to place students for internships.
8. School to Career Pathways & Young Entrepreneurs Academy
Speaker: Lauren Smith, Director of Programs, NW CT Chamber of Commerce
- Schools to Career Pathways group includes local businesses and career counselors from area high schools
- Goal is to keep schools and business community connected through communication and collaboration.
- Received 4 completed applications for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) program so far, the deadline is September 1.
- YEA is looking for sponsors as well as investor panelists.
9. Workforce Development/Education
4A - Encourage and promote education and training by trade schools, Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NWCCC) and UConn-Torrington.
4B - Maintain and expand current programs engaged in workforce training at area high schools, trade schools, NCCC and UConn-Torrington.
5 - Employer workforce needs - Evaluate and document workforce needs of regional employers.
Speaker: Neil English, Technology Education Teacher, Litchfield High School; Instructor at Tunxis Community College
- Teaching students solid modeling and architectural solid modeling
Speaker: Jake Horne, The Student Compass - Career Planning & College Transitions Mentors
- Not for profit organization designed to mentor junior and senior high school students, and college students in how to design, plan, prepare for and execute on a successful career path
- Multi-year mentoring curriculum
- Piloted in Litchfield
NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: JoAnn Ryan, Lauren Smith, Bill Baxter, Lew Chappel, Rose Ponte, Leo Paul, Doug Parker, Lou Helt, Domenic Carazza, Rick Lynn, Rich Minert, David Dean, Jocelyn Ayer
II. Task Team Reports
1. Lew Chappel gave the update.
2. Manufacturing coalition meets monthly.
3. CBIA held a "Manufacture Your Future" day for high school students at NCCC
4. The group would like to develop a road show for area schools with hands on, fun activities to get students excited about manufacturing.
5. Coalition is also working with NCCC on the curriculum for their pre-manufacturing program.
6. At their most recent meeting they created a catalogue of all of the manufacturing jobs available in NW CT by education level.
7. NCCC has their second pre-manufacturing class in progress now and local manufacturers are helping with the class.
H. Workforce Development & Education
1. JoAnn Ryan gave the report.
2. Collaboration between the manufacturers coalition and the schools is great. Opportunities and funding are available for workforce development, need to increase awareness of those opportunities.
3. A manufacturing road show would be important for parents in order to open their eyes to the opportunities available.
NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Dan McGuiness, Dale Martin, Rick Lynn, David Dean, JoAnn Ryan
Manufacturing Coalition/Task Team
1. The full membership of the Manufacturing Coalition met on April 12th at 8 am at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School for a breakfast meeting.
2. The goal of the group is to foster collaboration between the high schools, local community college and manufacturers in our area.
3. The group will establish a complete list of job opportunities, descriptions, and salaries for area high schools.
4. The group will also help NWCCC grow their pre-manufacturing class as well as provide guidance on what should be taught based on the needs from the manufacturers.
NW CT EDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Thursday, September 29, 2011
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Tim Abbott, Allan Borghesi, Bob Axelrod, Bill Baxter, Susie Clayton, David Dean, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Dan McGuinness, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., Rose Ponte, JoAnn Ryan, Dwain Snow, Mark Waterhouse, Leslie Cosgrove, Steve Zarella, Sue Voghel, Gina Scherbner
Guests: Northwest CT Community College (NCCC): Barbara Douglass, President; Leona LeJeune; Rose Gibbons; Sterling Engineering: John Lavieri, President; Tracy Ariel; Alcoa Howmet: Dwain Snow, Operations Manager; Yvette Saxin-Perez; Gina Lestage; BNB Manufacturing: Tony Nanni, Vice President; CT Workforce Investment Board: Kevin Canady
II. NW CT Community College - Skills for Manufacturing and Related Technologies (SMART)
NW CT Community College (NCCC) collaborated with three local manufacturers to provide advanced technical training. Area manufacturers have consistently identified the need for a highly skilled workforce as a high priority. An aging workforce nearing retirement age has created a need to train and hire younger skilled workers.
NCCC worked with Sterling Engineering, Alcoa-Howmet and BNB Manufacturing on this pilot program. All three companies are located in close proximity to NCCC in Winchester/Winsted. NCCC also collaborated with Naugatuck Community College and the CT Workforce Investment Board.
Kevin Canady at the CT Workforce Investment Board helped to identify potential program participants. ("Individuals who are seriously interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing and are capable of succeeding.") Unemployed individuals with a high school degree/GED were invited to workshops and interviewed. They were also tested in reading and math to determine current skill levels. Eighteen individuals were recruited through this screening process and 17 began training at NCCC. Twelve individuals completed Phase I and eight completed Phase II training. Six have secured full time employment.
The training included on-site training at the manufacturing facilities and classroom modules held at NCCC. Tracy Ariel described her role as Human Resources Manager at Sterling Engineering to coordinate with NCCC and the CT Workforce Investment Board. Rose Givens, a former teacher and administrator at Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington was the primary instructor at NCCC. She provided an overview of the course requirements at NCCC for Phase I & Phase II SMART training.
Attending the meeting were Barbara Douglass, President at NCCC; John Lavieri, President of Sterling Engineering; Dwain Snow, Operations Manager at Alcoa-Howmet; and Tony Nanni, Vice President at BNB Manufacturing. They were all highly complimentary of this pilot program and would like to see it continued and expanded. NWCTEDC will continue to support the efforts of NCCC and area manufacturers to provide jobs within the region.
NW CT EDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Friday, September 17, 2010
8:30 am - BD Medical, Canaan, CT
Attendance: Doug Parker, Dan McGuinness, Frank Chiaramonte, Susie Clayton, Fran Delaney, Michael Menard, Amy Wynn, Bob Axelrod, David Dean, Guy Rovezzi, Peter Kent, Colin Pease, John Hanlon, Heath Petersen, Andy Brockway, Scott Hudson, Tim Waldron, Leona LeJeune
BD Medical Leadership Team
Plant manager Heath Petersen provided an overview of the plant operations at BD Medical in Canaan. The plant has been in operation since 1961 and produces billions of hypodermic syringes per year now compared with millions in 1961. BD employs 344 full time workers and 9 temporary workers at the Canaan plant which is 360,000 square feet. High-quality products and continuous improvement are emphasized throughout the entire facility. All workers are encouraged to recommend improvements throughout the entire operation. Working closely with CL&P to institute energy conservation initiatives, over $1 million in lower energy costs have been realized in the past year.
Andy Brockway is an engineer at BD who has been mentoring the Robotics team at Housatonic Regional High School since 2001. He discussed his role with the team, provided an overview of robotics competitions and reported that several interns at BD were former members of the Robotics Team at Housatonic HS.
Scott Hudson described the green initiatives at BD including the reduction of 91% of the waste stream through intensive recycling efforts. These efforts have also helped reduce energy usage by 22%. BD has received over one million dollars in energy conservation incentives from CL&P during the past year.
The challenges identified by the BD plant leadership team were the high cost of energy, the local talent pool of qualified workers, the high cost of living in the area and the commuting distance for workers. 50% of the workforce at BD in Canaan lives in either New York (state) or Massachusetts.
Leona LeJeune of NW CT Community College described programs at NWCC that support the manufacturing sector with advanced worker training. She also described the availability of workforce development grants to assist in providing skilled training for lean manufacturing for currently employed workers.
Bob Axelrod of CL&P described programs available to assist manufacturers in reducing energy costs through conservation. He participated in extensive efforts with BD to dramatically reduce their energy costs.
President & CEO Peter Kent described the plant operations of Bicron Electronics. Bicron employs 80 full-time workers and has been in operation since 1964 manufacturing transformers and solenoids. They also utilize sub-contract manufacturing partners in Central America and China; about 40% of their products are produced in China and shipped to customers located in China and India. Using lean manufacturing techniques Bicron has reduced energy costs by 25% and improved productivity and quality. The plant location was selected because of its close proximity to metropolitan areas including Boston and New York. Bicron currently occupies a 30,000 square feet building in Canaan.
Peter discussed the high cost of medical insurance, the high cost of living, and the high cost of doing business in CT due to business taxes and regulatory fees as the major challenges facing his company. He cited the quality of life and his desire to live in NW CT as reasons why his company is located in Canaan.
Common issues for all manufacturers is the high cost of living in NW CT and the state, lack of affordable housing, high energy costs, commuting distance and limited public transportation for employees, a small available trained workforce and worker training for existing employees. It was pointed out that NW CT Community College provides extensive training in lean manufacturing and programs such as the Robotics Team at Housatonic High School can help to connect students to future careers in the manufacturing sector. Energy costs can be dramatically reduced through conservation efforts as evidenced at BD. Collaboration with regional clean energy producers such as Fuel Cell Energy is encouraged through grant opportunities provided by the CT Clean Energy Fund. An upgraded rail system and expansion to passenger service could provide another transportation solution for employees in the region.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:05 am.
Minutes - Board of Directors
Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 3:30-5:00 pm
UConn-Torrington Campus - Extension Center Bldg.
855 University Drive, Torrington, CT
The purpose of this meeting was to connect area high schools with area manufacturers and other private sector representatives. An aging workforce and a shortage of younger skilled workers was a major concern expressed by many of the manufacturers attending the March NWCTEDC BOD meeting. Manufacturing represents over 20% of the region's economy and has a significant effect on the region's economic well-being.
Attendance: Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, David Dean, Leo Paul, Jr., Rose Ponte, Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Fran Delaney, Celeste Echlin, Michael McGuffie, Michael Menard, John Morici, Ted Murphy, Guy Rovezzi, Vance Taylor, Cindy Donaldson, Chris Vita, Marty Connor, Rep, Michelle Cook, Rep. Robert Willis, Randi Camirand, Greg Diaz, Dan Fegley, Steve Nocera, Kenny Curran, Wayne Conner, Kevin Dake, Mark Landy, Dana Forchette, Deb Wheeler, Sue Glasspeigel
Dr. Michael Menard, Director of UConn-Torrington welcomed everyone to the campus. He briefly discussed a concept known as the Litchfield County Compact. This program would connect UConn-Torrington and NCCC more closely with the private business sector. It is currently in the exploratory stages and could include workforce development and entrepreneurial components.
Dana Forchette, Admissions Coordinator at UConn-Torrington provided an overview of the program offerings at UConn-Torrington. There are currently seven Bachelor degree programs offered in conjunction with other nearby UConn branches. There has been a strong interest in their programs and student enrollment is growing.
Northwestern CT Community College
Randi Camirand, NCCC Admissions provided an overview of programs offered at NCCC to assist and complement the private sector. NCCC has programs to help students prepare for college by getting college and high school credits. They have an active summer program which includes Robotics projects. Participants in this income tested program receive a minimum wage while also receiving mentoring and tutoring. They also work closely with the CT Department of Education to provide training in lean manufacturing.
NW CT Chamber of Commerce/NW Regional Workforce Investment Board
JoAnn Ryan is President of the NW CT Chamber of Commerce and is also the Chairman of the NW Regional Workforce Investment Board. NWRWIB serves 42 towns and cities in NW CT. The main emphasis is on creating and retaining jobs. They are currently working on two stimulus funded programs to encourage businesses to hire employees. 50% of new employee pay is covered during the training period.
JoAnn also talked about the upcoming "Career Explorations Fair" on October 8th planned by CEBP (Community Educators Business Partnership) sponsored by the Chamber. The purpose is to connect students, parents and professionals based on the 16 career clusters identified by the CT State Dept. of Education.
High School Robotics Programs
Sue Glasspeigel, FIRST Regional Director
(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
Sue provided a brief history of the organization plus phenomenal growth to include programs throughout the world. The FIRST Regional Event is tentatively scheduled for Mar. 17-20, 2010. The High School program is one of 4 robotics programs available through FIRST. There are other programs available for younger students.
Litchfield High School Robotics Team
Litchfield First Selectman, Leo Paul, Jr. and Litchfield Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Wheeler both expressed their strong support for the efforts of the Litchfield Robotics Team.
LHS Robotics Team advisors Kevin Dake and Mark Landy described how the LHS Robotics Team started and how it currently operates. The competition is international and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing) based. There are more than 42,000 participants world-wide.
Students run the program from the design stage to the building stage to the competition/strategy stage. Adults serve as mentors, advisors and guides, but students must make the decisions and build/operate the robot.
Students use a computer program called "LabVIEW" to design the robot. Designs are done by students on the same computer programs used in industry.
The LHS team began with 6 students four years and has now grown to nearly 25 students. The team had one female member the first year and now has nearly ten female participants.
Two years ago, the LHS Robotics Team requested a grant of $1,900 from the Litchfield Education Foundation to sponsor and mentor a Mindstorms Lego League for younger middle grade students. That program has grown from 20 students to nearly 60 students. A second grant was recently approved by the Litchfield Education Foundation to purchase additional Lego kits to allow more students to participate. Students in grades 4-8 build miniature Lego robots that must perform specific tasks. Students work in teams and must also make a presentation to other teams.
Housatonic High School (Region 1)
Housatonic High School also has a Robotics Team and helped to mentor the Litchfield team. Competitions promote cooperation and teamwork among all of the participating teams. Points are awarded for groups of teams and not individual teams during the competition stages to encourage this cooperation and teamwork. The Housatonic team has been sponsored by Becton Dickinson in Canaan for the past 10 years. Andy Brockway is an engineer at BD and has served as the team advisor since its inception. He and a team of parents and volunteers have established a program embraced by the entire community. State Representative Roberta Willis spoke highly of their efforts to encourage students to explore career paths in science and technology. A private foundation is raising money to help build a science and technology center at Housatonic High School.
Q: Guy Rovezzi asked if there were any academic requirements for participants?
A: No, everything takes place after school, it's not integrated into curriculum, both Housatonic & LHS Robotics Teams operate as school clubs. (Kevin & Mark answered the question.)
Q: What is the annual cost?
A: The kits cost $6,000 per year. Sue Glasspeigel suggested a bare bones team=$10K; an adequate team=$15-16K; and a competitive team=$20K. Teams have to raise money and secure sponsors in addition to working with the students. Region 1 (Housatonic High School) is going to support the program financially for the first time since the program started 10 yrs ago.
Funding is a constant challenge. The kits cost $6,000 per year. Tools and equipment to build the robots can bring the cost to as high as $20,000 per year. Most school systems will not absorb this in their budgets. The LHS team received grants from NASA, the local Litchfield Seherr-Thoss Foundations and the Litchfield Education Foundation. Many of these foundations place a limit of three years on continuous funding.
Regional support for programs linking students to applied science and math skills
Guy Rovezzi - President, Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut asked "How can we make this happen regionally? We'd like to give all of the kids in the region access to such programs."
He suggested the Community Foundation of NW CT could assist in the process, but it would require an oversight committee or board to establish guidelines and help to monitor distributions.
NWCTEDC will continue to explore methods for starting, supporting and expanding these types of programs. Support within school systems is critical. Advisors should be recognized on extra duty pay schedules as comparable to athletic coaches. While programs may begin as clubs, at some point the school system needs to recognize the value and integrate it into the school's curriculum. Additional funding from the private sector will be crucial in supporting and expanding these programs.
Optiwind and Fuel Cell are two regional companies that are growing as a result of inventive technologies. As large scale manufacturing continues to move to cheaper labor markets, CT needs to encourage these types of creative and inventive business ventures.
Participation in Litchfield Robotics and Lego League activities has seen a dramatic increase in the number of female participants. The Lego League now has a 50:50 ratio.
Teamwork and cooperation are integrated into these programs. Teams distribute work in relation to skill and roles that need to be filled, every team operates differently depending on the make-up of the team.
What are the impediments that keep schools from participating? Money and a lack of awareness on the part of students; the need for a school employee/insider to promote FIRST or the Lego League; time commitment needed from mentors; teacher commitment-should be treated as a sport and the teacher advisor/coach should get a stipend like a traditional coach.
Are Multi-School Teams possible? Yes, they exist and can work. It may be the easiest way to build support for a new program.
The ultimate goal is to bring these programs into the curriculum. Region 6 is doing that now, they are building a robotics program using vex robots in their tech ed program. Region 7 is exploring a cooperative effort with Housatonic to begin building a program. Oliver Wolcott Tech is developing a program for the first time this year.
Funding: How does a "for-profit" business support these ventures? 1) Through a foundation or 2) by donating to FIRST, which is a 501(c)(3) earmarked for a particular program; C-corps will get a 50% credit on all sponsorships over $200.
How much time do students commit during the season? It's like participating in a sport during the design, build and competition season (January to April). Students can adjust their participation according to their activities, but those that commit the most time during build season get to go to the competition and have the most say. This is a commitment of will more than money, schools must make a commitment.
NW CT Economic Development Corporation
Minutes - Board of Directors
Friday, July 24, 2009
Fuel Cell Energy - Torrington, CT
NWCTEDC BOD: Doug Parker (NWCTEDC, Pres./Exec. Dir.); JoAnn Ryan (NWCT's Chamber, Pres. & CEO); Chris Vita (NWCT's Chamber, Dir. Of Programs); Rick Lynn (Director, LHCEO); Mark Waterhouse (Garnet Consulting); Ted Murphy (E.J. Murphy Realty); Allan Borghesi (Borghesi Engineering & Construction); Fran Delaney (West State Mechanical, Pres./Owner); Dwayne Snow (Alcoa Howmet); Bob Axelrod (CL&P); Don Stein (Town of Barkhamsted, 1st Selectman); Michael McGuffie (NE Project Support); David Dean (Litchfield County Commercial, Litchfield EDC Chair); Maura Martin (Thomaston 1st Selectman); Michael Menard (Dir. of UCONN Torrington); Bill Baxter (Torrington Development Corporation; Exec. Dir.); Tim Abbott (HVA, Litchfield Hills Greenprint); Celeste Echlin (Savings Bank of Danbury); Leo Paul, Jr. (Litchfield First Selectman); Carolle Jenkins (NWCTEDC BOD); John Maxwell (J&J Precision, Pres.); Vicky Patrick (Petrovits, Patrick, Smith & Co., Partner/CPA; Member of Torrington Development Corp)
Guests/Speakers: Vic Muschell (Muschell & Simoncelli, Attorney/Partner; Torrington Development Corp., Pres.); Peter Kent (Bicron Electronics, Pres.); Bill Riska (Law Office of William O. Riska, Owner/Atty. & GRC Chair for NW CT's Chamber); Gary LeBeau (State Sen. for E. Hartford, Commerce Co-Chair); Michelle Cook (State Rep. for Torrington); Chris Swan (CL&P); Kenny Curran (Chris Murphy's Office); Marty Connor (Torrington City Planner); Andy Skok (Fuel Cell Energy); Jody Doyon (Teacher); Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Brownfields Consulting); Stephan Welford (HR, DOPT); Michael Keilty (UConn College of Agriculture); Sam Walker; Frank Buonocore (Founders Insurance); Jean Cronauer (NW Conservation Dist., Exec. Dir.); Tony Mitchell (NW Conservation District); Stephen Minkler (NCCC); Chuck Burnham & Bob Gates (First Light Power); Wayne Murray (O&G); Dave Hurwitt (Optiwind); Patty Mastins (NRWIB)
State legislators - opening remarks
Gary LeBeau (CT State Senate, Co-Chair of Commerce Committee) gave a brief overview of the efforts at the state level to promote clean energy through the CT Clean Energy Fund.
Fuel Cell Energy - Andy Skok
- Self-contained units; produce power and can heat water as byproduct.
- Fuel Cells are rated to last 20 yrs but probably last longer w/ proper maintenance; the “battery”/internal collection units must be replaced every 5 yrs, but they're improving these parts to last 7 yrs.
Solar - 2001 Company - Tom Kelly
- These are rolled out, thin solar cells that can be applied to a bldg's w/o any additional structure
- High Investment Return
- “Flexible Solar Collectors” can't be damaged like glass collectors, can be put on metal or other types of roofs; produced outside of Detroit; these even work under snow because they have a higher radiation capturing capacity. The durability makes this better than glass units. They presently don't produce as much power per square inch as a glass unit, but the technology is more convenient and flexible. It will improve in time and allow installation on more surfaces.
- Net metering laws-recollection/purchase of energy for unused power to the electric co.; helps grid when most efficient, in summer when the sun is shining and when is energy use is @ its highest.
- Solar power has no economic viability w/o CT Clean Energy Fund & federal incentives, but will be better in the future as technology improves and usage increases
Hydroelectric - First Light Power - Bob Gates & Chuck Burnham
- Bob worked in hydroelectric business w/ NE Utilities; now with First Light Power due to 1999 deregulation; Gostafrac Suez North America is present owner (the 2nd largest utilities company in the world)
- Bulls Bridge on Rte. 7 (105 yrs old); facilities are getting old; the newest is 50 yrs old in Shepaug; creating new plants and maintaining is expensive; need financial support for upgrades and development
- Largest source of renewable energy in CT
- Benefits: hydroelectric takes up a lot of land which=tax; creates lakes which draws homes and recreational usage. This further helps tax revenues.
- Comparison costs Nuclear=$5500/Kw installed; Fuel Cell=$4020/Kw Installed; Upgrades to Hydroelectric=$2200/Kw installed; Wind=$2200/Kw installed
Wind - Optiwind - David Hurwitt
- CT is mainly class 1 & 2 wind (Wind classified by grades from 0-7; 0=no wind; 7=highest wind production); CT does have very limited class 3&4 wind areas.
- CT has no wind turbines, but Optiwind is building one now on Klug Hill Rd/Farm, Torrington. - Surrounding states have had multiple units for some time now. So we're behind bordering states in wind production.
- Highest cost of setting up a wind turbine is the installation cost. Economies of scale is essential for putting in traditional turbines. Optiwind created a turbine system that has cheaper installation design and easier blades to transport and install. They've also reduced the sound production due to shrouded blades. Their design mitigates bird issues.
- Employment is increasing. Optiwind has grown from 3 employees in 2007 to 20 in 2009, and they're planning to hire more.
O&G Industries - Wayne Murray
Transitioning to a cleaner energy future - the role of traditional sources and emissions reduction technology
- Director of Operations for O&G's Power & Energy Division
- O&G is now mostly working with gas turbines. They have projects in Middletown CT, Braintree, MA, and at UMass Amherst.
- A lot of coal plants throughout U.S., but O&G isn't building any of these.
- The gas turbine systems are relatively clean compared to coal
- More wood burning plants, bio mass, geothermal out in western states
- O&G builds what the companies that hire them want; they don't dictate the technology used.
NE Utilities (CL&P) - Chris Swan, Director of Municipal Relations & Siting
- Distribution and delivery: CL&P no longer generates, but merely focuses on distribution and infrastructure for energy delivery; natural gas is highest power source (36%); Goal is to get 20% of power for renewable sources by 2020. Right now, we have 10% production from renewable sources.
- Recent infrastructure upgrades: a lot of projects throughout the state that have been completed. NU/CL&P has spent billions of dollars to improve the distribution system over the past 10 years. Transmission line updates are necessary to hold down energy costs by reducing congestion charges by federal government and mitigates energy loss caused by inefficiency of antiquated lines.
- Integrating alternate energy sources into the grid: They've created cooperative programs through the interstate reliability project w/ MA & RI (4 projects). This will help us reach the 20% goal by 2020. They're looking to work with Canada (Hydro Quebec), NE Utilities, and a Boston based energy company. State of CT has a policy conundrum due to funding issues facing conservation funds, the CT Clean Energy Fund and energy efficiency investments. Federal dollars have been dedicated to encourage installation of renewable or more efficient energy production sources
Closing remarks - Kenny Curran
- Chris Murphy is on the Energy and Commerce Committee; please contact his office as a resource.
- JoAnn-it's positive that these companies are creating employment opportunities and she spoke of stimulus money to encourage hiring. She asked companies to speak to her, and she let them know the Chamber will contact them soon with more details about participating in this program.
Falls Village Hydroelectric Power Plant - First Light Power
Shepaug River Hydroelectric Power Plant - First Light Power
Thomas A. Watson Generating Station in Braintree, MA - Built by O&G Industries
U Mass Amherst, Combined Heat and Power Plant - Built by O&G Industries
Board of Directors
March 6, 2009
Attendance: Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Bob Axelrod, Lou Helt, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Dan McGuinness, Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Chuck Conn, Fran Delaney, Maura Martin, John Maxwell, Michael Menard, John Morici, Ted Murphy, Guy Rovezzi, Dwain Snow, Vance Taylor, Amy Wynn, Chris Vita, Arthur Bogen, Karen Paradis, Michelle Cook, Mike Peacock, Dick Labich, Tom Souchuns, Gary Koeppel, Peter Gutowski, Dawn Mazini, Henry Marchell, Eric Hampton, Bill Pratt, John Lavieri, Sal Galasso, Al Gravel and Allen Rebman
Welcome to Alcoa-Howmet
Laura Carpenter, Plant Manager, provided an overview of the manufacturing operations of Alcoa-Howmet. She began with safety procedures and emergency evacuation information. She described the products manufactured in Winsted and the inter-relationship of the Winsted plant with Alcoa's global network. The Winsted plant generates about $100 million in annual revenue. It first opened in 1982 after moving from Whitehall, Michigan They adopted lean manufacturing techniques in 1982. The building is 81,000 square feet in size. It is non-union and currently employs 180 workers in three shifts. They produce aluminum casted parts for the aerospace, airplane and automobile industries. Their major customers are the parent company, Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney.
What are the benefits of being located in NW CT? A highly skilled workforce with a strong work ethic. The employees are engaged in their work and seek to produce high quality products.
What are the challenges? High electricity costs, plant spends $1.2 million per year for electricity. High taxes for both property and state taxes are challenges. It is difficult to bring workers to the region due to the high cost of living and housing prices.
How can the region support your company? Networking with other manufacturers in the region would be beneficial in sharing best practices and discussing common concerns.
Manufacturing in NW CT - Input from regional manufacturers
Thomas Souchuns: Rexam Dispensing Systems, Thomaston
Rexam produces fragrance and lotion pumps for the cosmetics industry. They currently employ 320 people. They have been in Thomaston for 38 years. They buy metal parts from companies in Waterbury. Lean manufacturing techniques have improved their profitability. Due to an aging workforce, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the skilled workers that are needed. Skilled metal working and metal forming craftsmen are needed. Poor economic conditions forced Rexam to lay off workers for the first time since 1990. They are working with a consultant to broaden their market and product line. The high cost of health care is a major challenge. Typical cost is $400 per month per employee. An apprenticeship program would be very beneficial. Tom also cited the high cost of taxation and energy as challenges.
Bob Axelrod, CL&P, suggested conservation and energy audits to reduce energy consumption and costs. He encouraged the state to continue supporting those efforts. He also suggested sharing services whenever possible with neighboring companies.
Doug Parker advised everyone that the July 10th NWCTEDC meeting will focus on energy.
John Lavieri, Sterling Engineering, Barkhamsted
Sterling Engineering makes gas turbines for helicopters and the aerospace industry. They employ 62 people and have been able to avoid any layoffs so far. They have been located in NW CT since 1941. Costly mandates and regulations have been the greatest challenge. Traffic flow on Route 44 is also a deterrent. The existing work force is highly skilled and highly dedicated. There are concerns about the future of the work force. The current workers are aging and many are nearing retirement age. The need to train younger workers will become increasingly critical to the future success of the company.
Fran Delaney, West State Mechanical, Litchfield
West State Mechanical currently employs 15 people. The high costs of operating a business are becoming increasingly challenging. Current state and federal statutes are punitive in nature and discourage rather encourage the development of private sector jobs. High unemployment costs and penalties were cited along with high workmen's comp costs. Efforts to allow "card checking" will provide another detriment to private businesses in the state. Apprenticeship program costs and regulations discourage employers from training new workers.
Dawn Mazini & Pete Gutowski, J& B Industry, Torrington
J&B is a start-up company currently with only one employee. They are seeking to expand, but are having hesitant to hire due to the high cost of unemployment insurance rates. They are also seeking skilled workers. The prospect of a higher minimum wage rate would also discourage hiring more workers.
Alan Seitz, Seitz Corp., Torrington
Seitz Corporation manufactures plastics and motion control devices for the medical and food and beverage industries. They have been in Torrington since 1949 and employ 200 people. They also have a plant in China. Their business has been very steady and is expanding. They are having difficulty obtaining financing from mid-level banks to expand their operations.
Lou Helt, Vice President at FNBL, suggested working with local regional community banks. They can pool resources to assist in providing the financing that is needed
John B. Maxwell & Allen Rebman, J&J Precision, Thomaston
J&J Precision employs 40 people. They make pens and are also linked to the auto industry as a parts provider. The downturn in the auto industry has had a very negative impact on their company. High costs for materials has also been challenging - stainless steel prices have doubled over the past year. They use stamping and electrical stamping equipment and sold $5 million worth of pens last year. An aging work force is also a concern for them. Skilled toolmakers are in high demand and require training programs. They are using the "Shared Work Program" sponsored by the CT State Dept. of Labor (www.ct.gov/dol). JoAnn Ryan distributed a handout with information about the Shared Work Program.
Doug Parker suggested regional manufacturers support the efforts of local high schools to sponsor Robotic Teams. Currently Housatonic (Region 1) and Litchfield have teams. Many of the other area high schools would like to have their own teams. It costs $6,000 per year to purchase the kits for building the robots. Each year robots have specific tasks that must be completed. Competitions provide an opportunity to compare and compete against robots created by other schools. Points are awarded relative to the tasks. Students work in teams with a school advisor and community mentors to build the robots. There is a regional competition at the CT Convention center at the end of March. Over 60 teams from New England competed in last year's event. National Web Site: (http://www.usfirst.org/) CT Regional Web Site: (http://sites.google.com/site/frcctregional09/) - currently being upgraded
Chris Vita suggested attending the Chamber's Legislative Breakfast meetings to have an opportunity to speak with local legislators about issues affecting their business. Meetings are held at 8:00 am on the second Thursday of each month at the NW CT Chamber. The Chamber's lobbyist attends to listen to concerns. As one attendee stated, "The problem with businesses is that they have the largest pocketbooks and the smallest voices." JoAnn Ryan was recently appointed by Governor Rell to serve on a statewide Workforce Development Committee. An aging workforce and a concern about a shortage of skilled workers in the future was a concern expressed by many at the meeting. Chris also discussed the Manufacturer's Coalition hosted by the Chamber. Networking and working cooperatively were mentioned by nearly every manufacturer at the meeting.
Eric Hampton, DECD, works with the manufacturing sector throughout the state. He suggested networking with other manufacturing organizations and coalitions to provide a stronger voice. Waterbury has an active organization, he suggested connecting with them.
A "Card Checking" bill currently being proposed by the legislature and a paid sick leave bill were cited as examples of over-regulation by the state government. The consensus from all that the meeting was that the state regulations are punitive in nature. They serve to punish the good employers because of a few employers who do not follow the rules. There is great concern that many manufacturers will leave the state and go to other states with friendlier and more supportive business environments.
Sal Galasso from the CT Department of Labor also offered assistance in labor relations with existing workers and training programs for new workers. He offered support for local manufacturers. He is not involved in any way with regulatory procedures.
Al Gravel, Model Craft, Plymouth
They make products associated with the medical and aerospace markets. The company began in the 1960's. They are in a growth mode and have been expanding their operations and adding to their work force. They have hired a lot of recently laid off workers from other companies. They have been very impressed with the high skill levels of these workers. They now have about 35 employees. A manufacturing network would allow the movement of workers from one company to another based on economic cycles.
Guy Rovezzi, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of NW CT, congratulated Alcoa-Howmet for their generosity in supporting non-profit causes throughout the region. He said they serve as a corporate role model for their efforts to support the arts and education.
Laurie Roy praised the efforts of Oliver Wolcott Tech to train students for manufacturing jobs. She expressed concerns about their aging equipment and the ability of the school to train students using appropriate technology. It was suggested that manufacturers may want to donate equipment to the school when upgrading their equipment.
Doug Parker offered to post links or information on the NWCTEDC web site - www.nwctedc.com. Information can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Hampton (DECD) reiterated the need to work with other regions. Platt Tech is producing about 30 manufacturing students per year. The New Haven Manufacturers Association is very active and works with schools to get young people involved and trained in manufacturing. Eric would be glad to help connect with those organizations. He again offered his assistance to all local manufacturers. Email: Eric.Hampton@ct.gov
Sal Galasso (CT Dept. of Labor) also encouraged manufacturers to contact him for support with job postings at CT Jobs Central, program and work force expansion, and working as manufacturer's advocate with CT OSHA. He can be contacted by email: email@example.com
Summary of Manufacturing Discussions:
What are the benefits of being located in NW CT?
Highly skilled work force
Dedicated workers with high work ethic
Highly productive workers
What are the challenges of being located in NW CT?
High property taxes and high corporate taxes
High cost of living - housing prices - difficult to bring new workers to the region
Aging work force - many approaching retirement age
Transportation system - Route 44 is highly congested (major east-west corridor)
Lack of skilled younger workers - need more trained younger workers
Excessive rules and regulations imposed by state government - costly to implement - punitive in nature - discourages manufacturers from wanting to stay in CT
High fees for unemployment insurance, workmen's comp, apprenticeships, health care costs, penalties imposed by the state, high minimum wage
High energy costs, high material costs
How can the region support your company?
Share best practices with each other
Networking - joint communications - shared concerns
Shared apprenticeships programs
Energy audits - energy conservation
Training programs for skilled machinists - tool & die workers, metal forming workers
Better equipment at Oliver Wolcott Tech - donate equipment to OWT when upgrading to newer equipment
Training programs for licensed mechanics
Maintaining close contact with area legislators to avoid costly and punitive laws that discourage business
Consortium of local community banks to provide funding for large projects
NW CT Economic Development Corporation