7th annual 'Valley Made' Manufacturing Summit held in downtown Fresno

The manufacturing industry is a critical part of our local economy, and it needs to grow its workforce to stay competitive.

Amanda Aguilar Image
Thursday, November 3, 2022
7th annual Valley Made Manufacturing Summit held in downtown Fresno
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The 7th annual "Valley Made" Manufacturing Summit wrapped up Thursday afternoon in downtown Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The 7th annual "Valley Made" Manufacturing Summit wrapped up Thursday afternoon in downtown Fresno.

The event is put on by the Fresno Business Council and San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SJVMA).

The manufacturing industry is a critical part of our local economy, and it needs to grow its workforce to stay competitive.

Industry leaders have recognized that recruiting the younger generation is key.

"Being in the engineering pathway that I'm in at my school, I was looking for an internship," said Jayden Carter. "So before I go to college, I can get some good hands-on experience and see what it's like for an everyday worker in the workforce."

The Edison High School senior was one of several local students who attended the manufacturing summit's interview session -- which gave students the chance to connect with local manufacturers for shadow opportunities, internships or employment.

"We have hundreds of thousands of jobs open in the manufacturing sector, but they require skills and a desire to come to work and work hard. That's what we need," said Lance Hastings, president & CEO of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. "To see them here today, it was really encouraging."

While recruitment is important, industry leaders have also recognized they need to improve retention.

"A lot of the things that take people out of the workforce can be things like childcare or housing or transportation," explained Mark Peters, the keynote speaker.

Peters is the CEO of Butterball Farms. In his address, he spoke about the organization he founded, called "The SOURCE." It's a group that supports those in the industry by helping them have a work-life balance.

Leaders announced a similar group is now being put together in Fresno.

"It acts as a resource for businesses and the Resource Navigator can come in to those various employers, work sites, and they can help connect their employees with various resources that they may need within the community," said Genelle Taylor Kumpe, CEO of SJVMA.

"If we care about the employee 24/7, I think that's much better for the employee and the employer," Hastings said.

According to SJVMA, it's currently searching for the organization's executive director so it can launch at the start of next year.