Manufacturing in the Garden State could soon get a big boost.

The New Jersey Legislature has approved a measure that would direct the state to funnel $1.5 million every year to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program.

MEP executive director and CEO John Kennedy said if Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill (S-1957), his group will get matching federal funds, and yet another $1.5 million from manufacturing companies could be collected to create a pool of money to expand a variety of important manufacturing training programs. He said that would increase employment opportunities and benefit the state.

“We’ve developed excellent pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs," Kennedy said. "I’s a great career pathway. We’ve had super partners with our county colleges."

Kennedy noted a lot of manufacturing in the Garden State is high tech,and “we know there’s over 30,000 openings right now in manufacturing -- and we’ve got to get people into the industry.”

There are opportunities for people to work in cybersecurity -- a requirement for companies that work with the Department of Defense. Kennedy noted 1,100 manufactures in New Jersey work with the DOD.

He said the Garden State relies on its manufacturing industry to a greater extent than many imagine, with 3,000 life science companies as well as 1,300 food companies.

"That’s what kept us medicated and fed during this whole pandemic," Kennedy said.

He said before the novel coronavirus health emergency, manufacturing was growing rapidly in the U.S.m and New Jersey is one of the top five states in the nation. There are about 11,000 companies and 400,000 in the sector in NEw Jersey.

Kennedy said manufacturing creates a 15-to-1 return on investment for the Garden State, so expanding the industry makes a lot of sense economically.

He added the additional revenue would also all the Manufacturing Extension Program to create a South Jersey office.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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