Who knew? Most of us are working out of unmarked concrete buildings, contract manufacturing for national brands.
A group of small business owners and city analysts, meeting monthly as a “Small Business Job Creation Policy Board”, determined that bringing our factories out of the shadows and promoting them to other manufacturers, to other sectors of the economy, and to the region at large would help to bring business to the city and result in hiring.
Manufacturers are more likely to hire Newark residents than other sectors, and manufacturing is more labor intensive than other sectors, so highlighting Newark’s thriving factories and infrastructure seemed to be the easiest way to have a positive impact on job creation.
We developed the Made in Newark Campaign as a comprehensive, low cost strategy to bombard the masses with the message that manufacturing lives in Newark.
We kicked off the “Made in Newark” campaign when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament came to Newark
The local organizing committee designated local manufacturers as preferred suppliers for any merchandise used in the tournament: giveaways, uniforms, printed materials, and merchandise sold at the Fanfest.
The city also gave away gift bags filled with dozens of Newark-made products to hundreds of journalists and corporate VIPs and reinforce the message that manufacturing lives in Newark, and funded a PR campaign that resulted in over 1000 links for Made in Newark on a google news search at one point. The campaign put up billboards, passed out literature, and affixed hang tags promoting “Made in Newark” to tens of thousands of Newark Made products.
- One goal we had was to change perceptions of Newark. We wanted to make people see that the brick buildings and smokestacks they see when they drive from Newark Airport to NYC do not represent urban decay, but are actually filled with factories and jobs.
- Through the gift bags, we demonstrated that anything and everything can be made in Newark so people would know that Newark’s location must be perfect for manufacturing.
- Through the hang tags we educated the public about Newark’s long history in manufacturing so people would know that the factories that thrive here must be highly evolved.
- By showing that we had the Booker administration’s full support, we demonstrated that manufacturing drives Newark’s economy, so businesses would know that buying locally made products will create value in their community.
If people conclude that Newark is the region’s manufacturing hub, they will look in Newark first when they need a manufacturer or want to locate a manufacturing facility. We did everything we could to demonstrate that Newark manufacturers work together, so future clients would know that when they are looking for manufacturing in Newark they will be guided exactly where they need to go. Newark manufacturers benefited just by by being engaged in the process and from the city’s image makeover—the individual programs at the tournament were tiny compared to the ultimate rewards.
The real progress was made by introducing manufacturers to each other, and getting manufacturers to network with one another
First it turned manufacturers into salespeople for one another. They had other manufacturers to refer their clients to for products they don’t make. We ended up with a new production line for one product that we make for one client—hats for the US Army—that we got as a result from a referral from a Newark uniform manufacturer out of this process.
Manufacturers were able to share information about available grants and programs, local suppliers and services. A shirt manufacturer just received a $150,000 grant for lean manufacturing implementation because he learned about that program during the tournament.
Manufacturers now share excess materials. They’ve shared underutilized resources like machinery and mechanics. We know we can bid on larger contracts because we can lean on other manufacturers for temporary labor while we ramp up.
Manufacturers can subcontract processes to each other and buy products from one another. We began using a Newark dye house and a Newark screen printer regularly after meeting these companies through networking events.
We have created new product lines by brainstorming with other manufacturers. An embroiderer of towels for hotels came to us to cut down and re-finish bath towels so they could save towels after a hotel changed ownerships.