Two years ago, the North Country Chamber of Commerce announced the planned creation of the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment — NAmTrans for short. The Chamber subsidiary is modeled after the Center of Excellence for Land Transportation in Quebec which mentored our early plans, and is now an organizational framework for linking, serving and growing the North Country’s incredible cluster of Transportation Equipment & Aerospace manufacturers, now numbering more than 50 with some 9,000 employees.
“Clusters” are a powerful dynamic in modern economic development with companies of a particular sector finding strength in co-location in a single area, opening the way to potential inter-company business and synergies while allowing a host region to have the critical mass to support appropriate forms of training as well as specialized support services and supply chains. Having built a diverse and dynamic cluster around rail, road and aerospace over the last twenty years, it is time to organize the cluster so we can help maximize support services and problem solving while also strengthening the attraction for new players.
NAmTrans has recently launched a website at www.NAmTrans.org, featuring six highly professional videos produced at company sites and now available to assist with talent recruitment and investment. NAmTrans is also now on Facebook and LinkedIn and we encourage SB readers to “Like” and “Follow” both. And a regular “NAmTrans News” e-newsletter is now circulated at least monthly.
On the event front, NAmTrans joined with our partners at Aero Montreal and other cluster groups to conduct the Quebec-New York Transportation Equipment & Aerospace Rendezvous in Plattsburgh in late May, drawing 135 participants with more than 90 official B2B meetings on site. The next event NAmTrans will be involved with is a second annual International Trade Day on October 30th, being organized by our friends at the Canadian Consulate General in N.Y.C.
And this month, the North Country Chamber and NAmTrans finalized a multi-faceted workforce development strategy for submission to the state, touching on everything from new training initiatives to child care capacity and involving a number of partners including the Workforce Development Board, the Workforce Development Institute, Clinton Community College, CV-TEC, Clarkson University, CITEC, Plattsburgh YMCA, AIME, RAMP and others. More information to come.
Coordinating all of this and more is Joel Wood, our new Director of NAmTrans. A SUNY Plattsburgh graduate with a B.A. in Economics & Political Science, Joel recently served as Regional Director for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. He is off to a fast start since starting in late July, connecting with all of the companies in the cluster while also building our relationships with other cluster groups in Quebec and New York.
The North Country Chamber is pleased and proud to bring this innovative initiative to our region, not only directly supporting companies in the cluster and their suppliers and service providers but also, in the process, enhancing support for manufacturing in general.