You’ve probably seen the sign on the bridge that is referred to as the “Trenton Makes” bridge: “Trenton makes, the world takes.”

That is a reference to the vibrant center of manufacturing that New Jersey once was. And while there still are some items being manufactured in New Jersey, we are a definitely not the hub of trade and commerce that we once were oh so long ago.

In fact, lately, we’ve seen so many big businesses and corporations leave New Jersey that you don’t have to wonder why our economy here in the State is in such a shambles.

That’s why it’s critical we bring manufacturing back to the state of New Jersey and why it’s great news that the Senate Higher Education Committee has approved Senator Steve Oroho’s bill called the Manufacturing in Higher Education Act. The law would create a new career track in the manufacturing sector which would be offered in county colleges and vocational schools.

Even though small businesses are having a difficult time finding employees right now, there still are plenty of skilled tradesmen who cannot work in the state because of the lack of factories here.

And with the college debt burden being what it is, many families are opting for trade and vocational schools as opposed to the traditional four-year bachelor's degree. This could be a viable option for people who want to stay in New Jersey if we had places for them to actually work after they have honed their trade.

Oroho’s bill would prepare young people as well as adults for work in the manufacturing industry. This would also encourage companies to come back to New Jersey, once we build up a significant manufacturing infrastructure and workforce here.

Manufacturing is good for all of us. It compensates for “brain drain”—large numbers of very well educated Jerseyans leaving the state to live and work elsewhere. It boosts trade, helps the unemployed, and is a solid career option that many people in New Jersey have never before considered.

Kudos to Senator Oroho for this very sensible approach to a real economic problem here in New Jersey.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.

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