The Colorado Manufacturing Network – Supporting Manufacturing Key to Economic Resiliency in Colorado

by Jennifer Hagan-Dier, COO, Manufacturer’s Edge

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), manufacturing contributed $2.3 trillion to U.S. GDP in 2021, which was 12% of total U.S. GDP for the year.  In Colorado, over 6,500 manufacturers employ over 156,000 workers contributing over $32.8 billion to the state’s economy annually.

Manufacturing has one of the highest multiplier effects of any industry with every $1.00 of output generating $2.74 for the economy and every single manufacturing job filled resulting in the addition of five employees elsewhere. Some economic indicators show that the total multiplier for the manufacturing value chain could be as high as $3.60 per $1.00 of value-added output. By comparison, $1.00 invested in the healthcare industry generates $2.00 to $2.44 in economic output.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the importance of manufacturing, not only as an economic generator but also as an industry critical to national security and the health and safety of the human population. Unprecedented worldwide demand for medical instruments and supplies including ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing kits coupled with years of reliance on international supply chains resulted in U.S. manufacturers scrambling to identify alternative suppliers, source materials, expand capabilities, and capacity, produce necessary equipment, and keep manufacturing workers on the job and safe. The manufacturing supply chain issues in the U.S. impacted other industries including healthcare, professional services, construction, and education.

A recent report by the National Governors Association titled “State Approaches to Enhancing Supply Chain Resiliency” noted that “the pandemic also emphasized the importance of the industrial base, supply chains, and job training for the manufacturing workforce at the state level, and since then, both federal and state governments have taken steps to strengthen U.S. supply chain.” Although recent data indicated that supply chain conditions for many manufacturing sectors have improved since 2020 with delivery times and available inventory almost back to “normal,” many sectors continue to face supply chain challenges including a lack of available and skilled workforce, issues with adequate infrastructure and transportation, lack of awareness of and failure to adopt and optimize technologies, and failure to manage risks associated with data, information, and technology assets.

“The importance of state and regional leadership for addressing supply chain issues cannot be overstated.” States such as Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Washington, and Wyoming have recognized the critical importance of manufacturing to their state’s economy by leveraging federal initiatives and programs, focusing on solutions to their state’s manufacturing supply chain issues, and ensuring the financial stability of the organizations, such as the MEP Center, that lead and support the manufacturing ecosystem.

As the MEP Center for Colorado, Manufacturer’s Edge has taken the lead in convening the manufacturing ecosystem through the Colorado Manufacturing Network. By connecting manufacturers to each other, collaborating with partner organizations that support manufacturers, and identifying federal, state, and local services and resources that address challenges facing critical manufacturing sectors, the Colorado Manufacturing Network will strengthen existing manufacturing supply chains, expand opportunities to attract competitive manufacturing sectors, identify and address workforce gaps, increase access to high-quality, high-wage jobs, and encourage improvements to the state’s efforts to support manufacturers.

Manufacturer’s Edge will announce soon our first in-person convening to align the state’s economic development resources for the benefit of Colorado manufacturers and their supply chains. Please pass the word along and join the already robust CMN to be a part of the transformation.