The Association of Washington Business (AWB) is on the move from October 2-10 for the third annual Manufacturing Week. During Manufacturing Week, members of the AWB embark on a statewide bus tour with the goal of showcasing the importance of manufacturing for Washington State’s economy.
Throughout the week, the AWB advocates for the creation of new manufacturing jobs in the state while also acknowledging existing manufacturers who positively contribute to the state’s economy. The first day of the tour kicked off by passing through Centralia, Olympia and Lacey at the Lacey MakerSpace, located on the St. Martin’s University campus.
Created in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is the manufacturing and technology association for the State of Washington, representing about 1,200 members of the manufacturing industry throughout the state. Also serving as a government affairs and advocacy agency for the state’s manufacturing industry, the AWB’s goal for the tour is to promote science, engineering, math and technology (STEM) education and to encourage the growth of manufacturing jobs in the state.
“The bus is crisscrossing 1,400 miles across the state to talk about manufacturing jobs and to talk about the future of manufacturing jobs and how they’re well paying, exciting and cool,” explains AWB Director of Membership, Sean Heiner. “We’re trying to get more people stoked about STEM and more people stoked about engineering-type jobs.”
In addition to highlighting the importance of manufacturing for the state’s economy, the President and CEO of the AWB, Kris Johnson, says that throughout this year’s tour, the AWB also hopes to start conversations around incentives that would help manufacturers grow throughout the state, including tax rates and the cost of electricity.
Showcasing pathways to education is a third goal for the tour, since a skilled and educated workforce is necessary for a flourishing manufacturing sector within the state.
“It’s a great chance to see manufacturers really leading by example,” says Johnson. “Whether it’s high school internship programs or after school programs. By exposing any experiential opportunities to young people, they can see what does this look like? And they can ask, ‘what skills do I need to work in a place like this and what type of wages could I have in there?’”
Lacey MakerSpace was the fourth stop on the first day of Manufacturing Week. Opened in July, Lacey MakerSpace is a community metal, wood and media workspace where students, business owners and community members can work on a variety of technological and engineering projects. The AWB’s stop at Lacey MakerSpace included a tour of the facilities and an overview of projects that are being completed by students and business owners who utilize the community resource.
“Lacey MakerSpace helps the idea of getting innovation and technology in our community,” says Deputy Mayor for the City of Lacey, Cynthia Pratt. “It feeds into helping the trades. It also helps develop people’s ability to create something without costing a lot of money.”
The AWB’s stop in Lacey enabled the organization to share the importance of manufacturing, not just for the state economy, but also for Thurston County’s economy.
“Right here in Thurston County, 3,400 men and women wake up every morning and go to work for a manufacturing company,” says Johnson. “I think, often times, people think manufacturing happens somewhere else besides here. It happens right here in places like Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater.”
To learn more about Manufacturing Week, the tour stops and the work of the AWB, visit the Association of Washington Business website.