Manufacturing Champions: A Quick History

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On May 13th at The Powelton Club in Newburgh, the Council of Industry will present its annual Manufacturing Champions Awards. This will mark the 10th year the awards have been handed out since they began in 2006 (they took a year off in 2010 to make way for the Council’s centennial celebration). They’ve grown quite a bit from their humble beginnings.

The first award was never intended as an annual event. It was actually an attempt to recognize the NY State Senator Stephen Saland for his support of manufacturing after he had secured an annual member item for Dutchess Community College to provide training for manufacturing employees. Positive reception of the event persuaded the Council’s board of directors that there was untapped PR potential in an award specifically designed to spotlight the local manufacturing industry. Taylor Thompson in 2007 became the second champion, and the first from the private sector, he received his award for his work with Taylor Technologies. 2008 marked the first time the Council selected more than one champion, with Roger Smith representing the private sector for his work at Pawling Corp and Senator William Larkin honored for his service in the public sector. When the awards resumed in 2011 the Council introduced a third category meant to honor the work of an entire organization rather than a single individual. Central Hudson became the first such organization to receive the award. This year the Council will debut a fourth Manufacturing Champion category devoted solely to honoring educators who have inspired a passion for manufacturing and engineering in their schools. Mark Harris of Ulster BOCES will be the first recipient for his work as the lead mentor and Custom Robotics Design & Manufacturing Instructor, and leader of the Solar Car project, the MIT robotic arm project, and the NASA prototype project.

In addition to Harris, this year’s recipients also include Private Sector Champion Mike Ratliff, founder of Marco Manufacturing, for his dedication to keeping manufacturing jobs in the area. Public Sector Champion Cliff Wood, the president of SUNY Rockland, is being recognized for his work bringing the 3D printing lab to campus. The entire Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress organization is being honored for 50 years of regional planning, especially its recent efforts to revitalize manufacturing in the region. There’s still time to register to attend the breakfast on Friday, May 13

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