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Manufacturing is a key driver of Arizona’s economy. The industry employs approximately 177,500 people in more than 5,000 establishments in our state.

Under Gov. Ducey’s leadership, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in manufacturing activity in Arizona. Coming into 2020, Arizona was experiencing its strongest manufacturing job growth in 30 years, out-pacing construction in the number of jobs created in our state. In 2019, manufacturing contributed $56.6 billion to Arizona’s gross domestic product. Pinal County alone has experienced a 19% increase in manufacturing job growth from 2015-2019 — jobs that pay an average wage of more than $57,000 per year.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are committed to increasing the momentum.

The Arizona Commerce Authority’s Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or AZ MEP, is offering assistance in the form of reduced cost services to Arizona manufacturers affected by the pandemic. The subsidized services are made possible by a one-time allocation as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The funding awarded to AZ MEP supports its programs to help manufacturers overcome challenges caused by the pandemic. And those challenges are wide-ranging.

Manufacturers have faced disruptions in the supply chain, waning customer demand and cash flow, cybersecurity risks and staffing issues. Many companies need help with strategic planning and identification of new markets. Others benefit from assistance with lean manufacturing and continuous improvement measures.

The pandemic has created a situation where all companies can benefit from an objective perspective — expertise that might not be available in-house — and best practices that have been implemented by other companies to improve the health of their businesses.

In addition, many manufacturers have stepped up to contribute to the pandemic response effort, shifting operations to produce personal protective equipment and other needed supplies. Assistance is available to these companies as well.

The program is open to manufacturers across the state and will be available through June 30, 2021.

No one could have anticipated the impacts the pandemic has created, but we can work together to mitigate their impact and help companies recover and move forward. With the help of our federal partners, AZ MEP stands ready to assist Arizona manufacturers and keep our industry healthy.

For more information on the Arizona MEP Emergency Assistance program, please visit azcommerce.com.

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David Garafano is the Arizona Commerce Authority’s senior vice president of manufacturing programs and executive director of AZ MEP.

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