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By Zara Brunner and Mark Schmit

In case you missed it (ICYMI), we’re sharing some of the stories discovered this past month as we’ve been sifting through the goodness that’s come out of Manufacturing Day (#MFGDay14) on 10.3.14. In fact, as we write this there are still celebrations going on. Some folks chose to hold events on a different day that was more convenient for their plant/community, and others may have decided to make it Manufacturing Month in their states.

As we were all celebrating at one (or a handful) of events on Manufacturing Day, it can be easy to miss what happened around the country. Our day was spent listening to President Obama deliver remarks at Millenium Steel in Princeton, Indiana. And while we knew that it was such an honor to have the leader of our country participate in Manufacturing Day, we also knew it was just one event that happened that day. We didn’t want to miss out on what else was happening around the country so we’ve spent time learning just what took place – and “wow” is what we have to say about that!

Manufacturing Day: The Big Picture

This initiative produced so many benefits at the individual, local, and national level. It’s no small task to capture the spirit and impact of what happened. How do you do that with a grassroots movement, after all? One thing is for certain: Manufacturing Day is – and always will be - a success because people, companies, and communities believe in the cause. They know that what we’re collectively trying to do is create widespread change in public perceptions and improve the image of manufacturing AND to raise awareness about the careers the industry offers. People are passionate. There’s a sense of urgency to make sure the public and our community leaders understand the importance of manufacturing and ensure that the next generation of workers are still making things here in the U.S.

Success by the Numbers

For the third year in a row, Manufacturing Day exceeded expectations. Below is a high-level roll-up of some national numbers to help illustrate what we’re talking about. 

  • 1,647 events took place across the country – double the number from last year and we surpassed the ambitious 1,500 goal the national co-producer organizations set. Amazing!
  • There were events in all 50 states and Puerto Rico (even a few in Canada).
  • We’re still waiting on final reports from surveys the national co-producers sent out, but a conservative estimate is that 50,000 attendees walked through the doors and got a chance to “see” modern manufacturing at work.
  • Dozens of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle participated in the cause.
  • Many high-level members of the Administration attended events, including President Obama and Secretary Pritzker at Millenium Steel. In addition, Secretary Moniz, Secretary Vilsack, Administrator Contreras-Sweet, and Ambassador Froman visited plants around the country.
  • The President also issued the first ever Presidential Proclamation recognizing National Manufacturing Day.
  • He was joined by at least 18 Governors issuing Proclamations, along with countless mayors and county officials across the country.
  • The hashtag #MFGDay14 trended on Facebook and Twitter on October 3  (that’s a big deal in the social media world).
  • And if you weren’t on social media but were instead in Manhattan, this is what Times Square looked like on October 3:

  • Manufacturing Day made it to the deck lid of driver Joey Logano’s #22 Shell-Penzoil Ford Fusion NASCAR during a 9/16 race in Chicago
  • In the 6 months leading up to Manufacturing Day, there were more than 6,000 news stories published reaching 30 million people. Some of them included a “Manufacturing in America” insert in USA Today with lots of coverage about the day.
  • On air, there was a satellite radio media tour reached more than 7.3 million listeners with more than 1,000 airings on stations across the US. In addition, a MFG Talk Radio show featured live broadcast interviews with MEP, FMA, and NAM leadership and reached 100,000 listeners.
  • On television, there was a CNBC Squawk Box interview the morning of Manufacturing Day with Jay Timmons, President & CEO of NAM, and Doug Oberhlman, CEO of Caterpillar, Inc.
  • And the Science Channel aired a special message about manufacturing and Manufacturing Day to its 80 million viewers during a weeklong marathon of HOW IT’S MADE (the official TV show of Manufacturing Day). Here’s a clip

  • Discovery Education and Alcoa hosted a virtual field trip and guess how many students attended? 150,000 students from 4,200+ schools signed on to take a “virtual tour” of the Davenport, Iowa factory where Air Force One wings are made and where material to make cars faster and more efficient is manufactured.

And most recently, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee, comprised of industry and academic leaders around the country, recommended to the President that Manufacturing Day be supported as a way to secure the talent pipeline and improve the image of manufacturing (see the full report here).

So what else did this grassroots movement result in? Looking at some of the stories from local communities, Manufacturing Day sparked interest in careers, helped correct misconceptions about the industry, was a celebration of the workforce, and contributed to countless community initiatives lasting beyond the day.

We’ll be drafting future blog posts on these topics between now and the next Manufacturing Day (Save the Date: October 2, 2015). In the meantime, let others know what they may have missed and share your story here.    

About the author

Zara Brunner

Zara Brunner is the communications director at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Office of Advanced Manufacturing (OAM). Zara received a B.A. with honors in political science with a focus on economics from State University of New York at Fredonia. Prior to joining OAM, Zara managed marketing and communications at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which she joined in 2011.  At MEP, she oversaw internal and external marketing and communications about the program and its National Network of Centers.

Mark Schmit

Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), since 1988, has been committed to strengthening U.S. manufacturing, continually evolving to meet the changing needs of manufacturers. As division chief for regional and state partnerships, Mark is the lead for division policy and has assisted in the development of programs supporting manufacturing and industrial extension technology-based economic development, and entrepreneurship practices with state elected officials and policy makers, including the MEP policy academies, which were designed by MEP and partners to help states build upon existing strategies, leverage available resources, and spur creative new ideas about how to address major challenges or leverage opportunities around the manufacturing sector.  Mark is responsible for developing partnerships with both the public and private sector entities. He was an MEP co-lead for the creation of MFG Day, an outreach program held on the first Friday in October to show students, parents, and the public what modern manufacturing is all about, with growing annual participation across the United States. Mark was a 2001, 2005, 2014, and 2020 recipient of NIST’s George Uriano Award.  The George Uriano Award recognizes outstanding achievements by NIST staff in building and strengthening NIST extramural programs and partnerships.

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