Originally published at: http://www.leominsterchamp.com/articles/leominster-continues-to-lead-the-way-in-manufacturing/
While we were all picking out our Halloween costumes in October, I also wanted to give a shout out to our Leominster manufacturers in honor of Manufacturing Month.
Throughout the month, I’ve gotten to tour some impressive local manufacturing businesses and even take an educational “field trip” to South Carver to learn more about Massachusetts cranberry farming and processing.
Leominster has played (and continues to play) a particularly influential role in manufacturing in Massachusetts and nationwide. While Leominster started out as a small farming community, our economy quickly shifted towards manufacturing at the beginning of the 19th century, thanks to accessible transportation routes and a strong workforce.
By the 1850s, Leominster and the surrounding communities were home to many industries, including paper mills, piano makers, and comb manufacturers. Most notably, comb manufacturing quickly grew to 24 different manufacturers cropping up in Leominster by 1853.
With the introduction of plastics, Leominster continued to lead the way, eventually became the “Pioneer Plastics City.” Leominster became home to the Viscoloid Company (which later merged with the DuPont Company), Foster Grant, Tupperware, Standard Tool Company, Selig Manufacturing Co. Inc, C.E. Buckley, Inc., and the Whitney Carriage Company. And no one can forget that the plastic pink lawn flamingo was invented in 1956 for Union Products, with the original design by Don Featherstone. I proudly have my Leominster pink lawn flamingos in my Leominster and Boston offices.
Manufacturing still remains a major player in our local and regional economy, accounting for one-quarter of all jobs in both Leominster and across North Central Massachusetts. Our region actually has the highest concentration of manufacturers in Massachusetts, as many other regions have seen manufacturing jobs disappear.
We should be proud of the training our own Center for Technical Education and Innovation provides our students. Just this month, thanks to a Skills Capital Grant application prepared by Machine Technology Instructor Steve McNamara and his wife Erin, CTEi was awarded a grant of $492,000 to continue necessary updates to program equipment. This will help round out the additional investment of $150,000 CTEi has already made in the program.
With such a promise of our past and present in the manufacturing industry, I am excited to continue to help connect the dots between our schools, our local Chambers of Commerce, and our area manufacturers to ensure Leominster remains an area leader. Many of these partners are already looking to ways to set the bar even higher, and to foster the growth of clean and renewable energy technology. There is so much more room for this Gateway City to grow and provide even more meaningful, high-quality, and well-paying jobs for Leominster residents.
Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. If you have any questions, or need to get in touch with me and my office, email me at Natalie.Higgins@mahouse.gov or call (978) 227-5278.