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5Q: Rustyn Stoops, executive director of Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership

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Rustyn Stoops, executive director of Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership

What is the future of manufacturing in Delaware?

The future of manufacturing in Delaware is advanced manufacturing. The manufacturing landscape is changing due to global competition, and 1970s manufacturing does not match what manufacturing looks like today. A more skilled workforce is required to operate the complex processes and the machine-controlled environments that enable today’s workforce to deliver faster process times with higher repeatability and reduced operator injuries as compared to the manual processes of the past.

Does Delaware have the right workforce?

Delaware has some great higher-education institutions which continue to adapt to the changing needs of the marketplace to create homegrown talent. A good example of this is the Pathways program being offered through a partnership between Delaware Tech and the local school districts to provide manufacturing training for high school students that lets students enter directly into the workforce or get a jump start on other certification or degree programs.

Are there any initiatives underway to grow advanced manufacturing in Delaware?

There are numerous ongoing activities that can grow advanced manufacturing in Delaware. One instance in particular is the creation of the Manufacturing USA Institute for Bio Pharmaceuticals called NIIMBL. NIMBL is being created here in Delaware and its work will significantly benefit the advanced manufacturing sector. In addition, its presence has the potential to attract additional biopharmaceutical companies to consider Delaware as the best place to do business.

What roadblocks do manufacturers see as barriers to growth?

During a recent strategic planning session with the Delaware Manufacturers Association (DMA), manufacturers voiced concerns about structural costs such as health care, energy and talent recruitment. Sometimes, due to required experience level or demand exceeding the current local talent pool, manufacturers need to recruit outside of Delaware, and some face challenges with presenting Delaware as a desirable relocation option.

Are there any risks for today’s manufacturers?

Cybersecurity is a threat to many businesses around the country and Delaware is no exception. Small manufacturers are seen as an easy entry point into larger business and government agencies. Companies are having their computers, including production equipment, vandalized electronically or even locked out as part of a ransomware attack. Because of these issues, the Department of Defense has responded by creating the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) minimum security standards that must be implemented by Dec. 31, 2017, for anyone who processes, stores or transmits Controlled Unclassified Information. Failure to comply could mean the risk of losing contracts.

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