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New England Manufacturers Buck the National Trend

Many manufacturing entities in the New England region of the U.S. have been able to largely withstand the recessionary onslaught that has devastated other sectors of the country, particularly the Midwest. In fact, newly released figures show industrial facilities are growing, not shrinking.

According to Manufacturers’ News, Inc., the New England region gained 164 manufacturing plants over the past 12 months—and 1,700 facilities over the past five years. Howard Dubin, chairman of Manufacturers’ News, has his theories: “This unique region gained plants because its workers rank high in the skills, education, and technology that make up America’s new advanced manufacturing.”

Some observers point to another explanation. “Aside from a few growing industry sectors, such as medical devices, what we are now seeing are numerous small manufacturing enterprises repositioning themselves and starting new operations to launch new technologies,” said Jack Healy of The Manufacturing Advancement Center in Worcester, Mass. “As the large OEMs downsize and outsource to overseas suppliers, they are leaving a domestic supply chain of thousands of small manufacturing enterprises in search of new business.”

While there may be some debate as to the precise reason for the region’s atypical uptick, there’s certainly no second-guessing the sheer numbers: Massachusetts remains the region’s top industrial state, accounting for 38% of New England manufacturing plants, while supporting 45.5% of the area’s industrial employment, according to statistics compiled by Manufacturers’ News. Connecticut ranks second with 6,203 plants or 24% of New England manufacturing plants and 26.6% of manufacturing employment. Rhode Island boasts 2,416 plants employing 78,673 people. (The city of Providence, R.I., New England’s top industrial city, houses 407 plants or 17% of manufacturers there.) Meanwhile, Boston and Worcester (Mass.) rank second and third with 300 and 255 plants, respectively.

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