Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand is introducing legislation intended to boost advanced manufacturing in the state and plans to discuss her “Made in America Manufacturing Act” with elected and business officials this morning at a Village of Lancaster industrial firm.
The New York Democrat will meet with Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Buffalo Niagara Partnership Vice President Craig W. Turner and other officials at Harper International, a maker of industrial furnaces.
“She is promoting legislation that will help keep jobs here, and help American families, and [Poloncarz] supports that legislation,” Peter Anderson, a spokesman for the county executive, said Sunday night.
A highlight of Gillibrand’s proposal is the creation of a federal funding competition meant to encourage regional public-private partnerships to come up with growth strategies for high-tech and clean-tech manufacturing, as well as other industries, according to the senator’s office.
The legislation also would aid workforce-development efforts and provide improved market intelligence for companies. “The workforce training is key to everything,” said Turner, who said the federal government must take the lead role.
Gillibrand’s office touted the potential value of the high-tech industry. Local employment in this sector has grown by 3,400 jobs – or 7 percent – since 2004, at a time when thousands of manufacturing jobs were lost in this area.
Today’s news conference highlights the work of Harper International, whose origins date from 1924. The maker of industrial materials furnaces evolved in the 1990s to a company specializing in thermal processing solutions.
An employee stock ownership plan began in 2011, and the company has grown in recent years to the point that it plans to move from its longtime Lancaster location to space in the former Quad/Graphics building in Depew.
Harper works with a number of local vendors and has an international customer base, with at least 50 percent of its annual sales coming from overseas, said Diana M. Robbins, the company’s marketing manager.
The company’s new director of export compliance and government relations, Nina Hsu, has worked to boost the company’s profile in Washington, D.C., Robbins said, and the Gillibrand event fits with those efforts. Hsu and Harper President Charles W. Miller are among the company officials attending today’s event.