Since 2012, Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) has been celebrated nationally to highlight modern manufacturing and inspire the future generation of manufacturers. Manufacturing is defined as the process of converting raw materials, components, or parts into finished products. Manufacturing is also an essential element of the U.S. economy representing over 12.5 million jobs according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Data. MFG Day is being celebrated on Friday, October 5, 2018, across the U.S. and locally in St. Bernard Parish.
As MFG Day 2018 approaches, St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) is spotlighting the importance of fostering an interest in careers in manufacturing to remain a viable community, ready to capitalize on economic opportunity. “Approximately 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next year due to our country’s skills gap in this area. For our economy to prosper, we must do a better job of highlighting the fruitful careers and potential earnings in the manufacturing sector, explains SBEDF Executive Director Andrew Jacques. SBEDF is also proud to recognize St. Bernard Parish’s local manufacturers and their advancements in this vital industry. “Thanks to our workforce and connectivity, St. Bernard has a history and future in manufacturing,” explains Jacques. “Of course, we would be remised if we didn’t mention Domino Sugar, the largest manufacturer located in St. Bernard Parish.”
The Crown Jewel of American Sugar Refining, Inc. is located less than four miles from the French Quarter in Arabi, Louisiana. Most commonly referred to as Domino Sugar, the state-of-the-art facility employs over 450 full-time employees with an average salary of $79,000 a year. The Arabi Refinery has the largest capacity of any of ASR, Inc. refineries worldwide and can refine over 1.11 million tons of raw sugar annually. Allan Reichert who is a lifelong resident of St. Bernard and has worked at Domino Sugar for 47 years spoke about the values of the company and its commitment to the community. “Domino Sugar has been here for 109 years and we expect to be here for many more. We embrace our role in the community to be a great business by providing good paying jobs and a place to stay and earn a living in a safe and environmentally friendly atmosphere.” Along with providing monetary and in-kind services to more than 30 charitable organizations, the company also funds 3 full scholarships to Nunez Community College.
Also located in St. Bernard Parish, Southern Services and Equipment (SSE,) is a manufacturer of custom metal components and assemblies typically used in commercial building projects throughout Greater New Orleans. Once a manufacturer of mostly handrails, guardrails, and stairs, SSE has evolved to a firm that focuses primarily on structural steel and machined components that support the loads of large buildings, bridges, and canopies. For the second consecutive year, SSE was recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States on the Inc. 5000 list. SSE Chief Executive Officer, Mindy Nunez Airhart discussed their rapid growth and the importance of MFG Day. “Coupled with our nearly 250% growth in revenue over the past three years is the need to have employees with the skills to improve our systems, explained Airhart. “I believe it is extremely important to continue to nurture the manufacturing industry for a multitude of reasons. We are proud to partner with Nunez Community College by sending our laborers to take welding classes on our own dime. We also hire Nunez students after they graduate. By supporting the growing manufacturing industry in our parish, we support both the local labor force and our local tax base, which is a win-win for everyone.”
Along with Domino Sugar and SSE, Jacques also mentioned the vital role that Nunez Community College is playing to ensure that St. Bernard Parish remains a competitive location for current and prospective companies specializing in manufacturing. Programs offered at Nunez related to manufacturing include PTEC, Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Construction, Welding, HVAC, and the newly launched Aerospace Technology Manufacturing. Nunez Community College Chancellor, Dr. Tina Tinney believes that the college is an economic driver in the region providing workforce training that addresses the skilled labor shortage in advanced manufacturing. “Most importantly, these skills lead to high wage, high demand jobs and make the student attractive and marketable to an employer in two years or less. With the opening of the Kane Technology Center, Nunez is revitalizing the career and technical programs that are keystones to economic prosperity, says Dr. Tinney.”
Nunez Community College’s expanded curriculum offerings are focused on equipping the local workforce to lead the region in advanced manufacturing. “Advancements in manufacturing have led to work environments that involve automation, new technologies and clean lab settings, explained Dr. Tinney.” Dr. Tinney mentioned that Nunez Community College will be participating in MFG Day to showcase modern manufacturing and demonstrate how starkly different it is from past perceptions of manufacturing. “We are excited that Nunez will be recognized statewide during MFG Day 2018 and our new Aerospace Manufacturing Technology program, along with our other manufacturing programs that make our institution uniquely positioned to deliver first-rate educational programs to meet the needs of this growing sector.”