Middletown Economic Development Forging Tomorrow Forum: Shaping The Future of Manufacturing

Middletown Economic Development Forging Tomorrow Forum: Shaping The Future of Manufacturing Main Photo

24 Oct 2023


On October 26th, the City of Middletown Economic Development will host the Forging Tomorrow: Shaping the Future of Manufacturing Forum. With leaders across the manufacturing industry shedding light on innovative strategies, the forum will shift mindsets to reimagine the industry landscape. The first session, titled Workforce Empowerment, will focus on workforce development strategies.

Lisha Morlan, Assistant Director of Economic Development at the City of Middletown, organized the forum to maximize regional growth. Morlan shares, “As a whole, our region is ready to explode. Middletown is traditionally a manufacturing community. We have the workforce and the infrastructure. When we examine the existing opportunities for additional industry sectors and advanced manufacturing, we need to be intentional about embracing our position as a manufacturing leader.”

Panel 1:  Workforce Empowerment

Shifting Trends in Manufacturing Work Schedules

The first topic of the Workforce Empowerment Session will be “Shifting Trends in Manufacturing Work Schedules.” With so many collective changes to the workplace in recent years, split shift scheduling has become a central topic. Rather than a traditional 9-5 schedule, split shift scheduling breaks a shift into two parts with a break in between. Essentially, split shift scheduling allows employees more flexibility while maximizing productivity. However, there are workers who prefer traditional scheduling as well.

While addressing these shifts and varying needs can be challenging in the manufacturing space, Morlan notes that accommodating different work schedules is a necessary step for employers. “You might have two people that are going to work a split eight-hour shift, four and four; versus somebody who wants to work three 12s on and maybe two 12s off. Our panelists will provide the information about how to do this productively, and why it’s in the best interest of manufacturing businesses.”

Quality Childcare:  Employee Retention and Attraction  Tools 

The second focus of the Workforce Empowerment Session will be “Quality Childcare as an Employee Retention and Attraction Tool.” More specifically, the panel discussion will focus heavily on the need for on-site childcare and/or employer-supported childcare, consortiums, stipends, etc. Morlan states, “On-site care facilities allow workers to have lunch with their children or check in. It allows a little bit of flexibility so they can engage with their children throughout the day– which is pivotal in a young child's life. The other thing that an onsite or employer-supported childcare facility does is allow ubiquitous interaction among the kids. When we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it starts in the childcare centers and works its way up to an engaged employee culture.”

Morlan also notes that industry leaders and development professionals can reimagine working together to address housing. “Providing a portfolio of housing is crucial. The future of development can look more collaborative, where one organization can provide housing and the other can provide the employer.”

Fair Chance Employment

The last topic of the session is “Fair Chance Employment.” By being intentional about working with justice-impacted citizens, companies can tap into the existing talent. Morlan states, “It’s not just working with justice-impacted folks; it's also working with the employers to make a culture that accepts, accommodates, and recruits the re-entry employees. A lot of employers miss a large part of the talent pool by using systems that will automatically dismiss potential hires if they’ve been previously incarcerated. Ensuring fair chance employment also reduces recidivism rates. All around, it’s an imperative workforce solution.”

City of Middletown Economic Development Forging Tomorrow Forum: Incentive Programs and More!

In addition to the panels, attendees can visit incentive tables. At the tables, attendees can learn in real-time about what resources and incentives are available in the region. To sign up for the forum or to learn more, click here.