Feature Story

Help for Arizona manufacturers hurt by pandemic

The Arizona Commerce Authority is putting out a call to Arizona manufacturers hurt by the pandemic. It has a program to help.

Companies hit hard by disruptions, layoffs, furloughs, loss of business and other setbacks due to Covid-19 are encouraged to apply for emergency assistance through the agency’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

Through the partnership, companies can receive subsidized or reduced rates for assistance in areas like rebuilding customer demand, overcoming supply chain disruptions, reassembling their workforce, and identifying new markets.

“There’s close to 5,000 manufacturers in Arizona and a lot of them need help but most of them don’t know that this kind of help is available to them so they don’t seek outside resources, especially the small companies that need it most,” said David Garafano, executive director of the program.

Many small manufacturers suffering setback 

Garafano said small manufacturers have been hardest hit. The goal is to bring them back to their pre-pandemic levels.

“In some cases we’ve seen companies that have seen their demand completely dry up. For example, when all of the airlines stopped flying, a lot of the aerospace work in the manufacturing supply chains stopped,” he said. “We saw furniture companies where 80 percent of their demand just evaporated. It was gone.”

Among the services MEP can assist companies with are:

  • Strategic planning and identification of new markets
  • Rebuilding customer demand
  • Overcoming supply chain disruptions
  • Financial and cash flow management
  • Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement
  • Staffing, training and workforce development
  • Maintaining a safe workplace in a COVID-19 world
  • Cybersecurity risk assessment and compliance planning

Bargain rates for top level expertise and analysis 

Through the MEP program, companies pay reduced rates for top level expertise to help them improve their business and operational performance. Customized solutions and hands-on assistance are provided by a network of third party service providers and the program’s team of seasoned manufacturing and professionals.

“The one thing that’s so much fun about the AZ MEP is that we’re just here to help,” said Garafano, who has more than 30 years experience in manufacturing and business in leadership positions with companies such as AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Celiant, Andrew and ON Semiconductor.

This emergency assistance is being made possible through the federal CARES Act. Arizona is receiving $730,000 to help these struggling companies get back on their feet. So far, $350,000 has been approved for 118 companies.

Why manufacturing is so important to Arizona 

Arizona has seen steady uphill growth in the sector since 2013. One of the biggest benefits of that growth has been higher paying jobs.

In 2019, there were an average 177,000 manufacturing employees with an average annual compensation of $87,387, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

Manufacturing is also a revenue producer for the state. Manufacturers produced $20.93 billion in manufactured goods exports in 2019. Of that, $9.84 billion was from free trade agreement partners like Mexico and Canada. Small businesses comprised 88 percent of all exporters.

The bulk of manufacturing output in Arizona comes from three sectors: computer and electronics, aerospace and other transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products.

Pandemic changed landscape for manufacturing 

Many sectors have seen dramatic disruptions including Arizona’s most profitable, aerospace and defense.

So far, companies seeking assistance have needed a variety of services including rebuilding their workforces and finding new uses for their operations and equipment as demand has dried up, Garafano said.

“Probably one of biggest things we’re doing with these companies is a lot have been hurt financially by the pandemic and they don’t always have a CFO or a higher level finance person, so we’re bringing in CFO people to do analysis on the company and help them understand their cash flow,” he said. “They were healthy and the pandemic made them unhealthy, so we can help them build a plan to get healthy again.”

Relief needed to make it through the new year    

Allison Gilbreath, executive director of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, said there is a great need for aid for the industry right now. Not only are many industries flailing but other federal covid relief programs are about to dry up.

“The manufacturing industry in Arizona was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Gilbreath said. “Our members were faced with tough choices in 2020 and most manufacturers anticipate pandemic-related challenges well into 2021.”

For more information or to apply for assistance through the MEP program, go to: Arizona MEP emergency assistance program. 

Original Chamber Business News article here.

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Arizona Manufacturers Council welcomes Allison Gilbreath as new executive director

Allison Gilbreath

Gilbreath will serve as Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice president of strategic initiatives in new role

PHOENIX (March 16, 2018) The Arizona Manufacturers Council has named Allison Gilbreath as its new executive director. Gilbreath will also serve as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s vice president of strategic initiatives.
 
The Arizona Manufacturers Council is the official Arizona affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers and works to promote a positive business climate for manufacturing and related industries in the state. In addition to advocating for pro-manufacturing public policy, the AMC also produces the annual Manufacturer of the Year Awards and Summit, and the annual Environmental and Sustainability Summit.
 
“Allison’s breadth of experience and understanding of the issues that are important to job creators in the manufacturing sector will serve the Arizona Manufacturers Council incredibly well,” AMC Chair Dawn Grove said. “I am encouraged to have Allison on board and am confident that she will amplify the voice of our manufacturers, helping them compete in the global economy and create more high-paying jobs in Arizona.”
 
Gilbreath joins the Chamber from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, where she was vice president of business development and where she worked with companies across multiple industries looking to establish a presence in Greater Phoenix. Prior to GPEC, she spent nearly 10 years at the Arizona Commerce Authority, most recently serving as vice president of business attraction.
 
In addition to overseeing manufacturing issues, Gilbreath will work on legislative issues and initiatives relating to the Chamber’s technology and infrastructure priorities.
 
“We are thrilled to welcome Allison to the Chamber,” Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “She knows what it takes to create jobs, and she has earned an outstanding reputation among business leaders and government officials across the state. I know she is going to do great things for the Arizona Manufacturers Council and the Chamber and will be an effective voice at the state Capitol, before state agencies, and regulatory bodies.”
 
In her career, Gilbreath has been involved in the attraction of tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new capital investment to Arizona.
 
“I’m excited to get started,” Gilbreath said. “Arizona’s manufacturers represent some of the most innovative and creative leaders in the state’s business community. I am looking forward to advancing the AMC agenda and taking a leadership role advocating for tech and transportation infrastructure priorities.”
 
Gilbreath is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. She resides in Phoenix with her husband, Matt, and their two dogs, Stella and Tucker.
 
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The mission of the Arizona Manufacturers Council is to promote and enhance a positive business climate for manufacturing and related industries that operate within Arizona.
 
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.
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