Quality, quantity mark 2nd Manufacturers’ Symposium

New and improved: Visitors check into the 2018 Long Island Manufacturers' Symposium at the Melville Marriott. The 2019 version, scheduled for Nov. 13, will be better, according to organizers, though not necessarily bigger.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Most business conferences hang their hats on attendance – the bigger, the better.

But as any good manufacturer will tell you, when you want to build something right, it’s not about using the most pieces – it’s about using the right ones. So, when the second-annual Long Island Manufacturers’ Symposium graces the Melville Marriott on Nov. 13, organizers won’t be much interested in a head count.

At a minimum, they’re expecting a turnout similar to last year’s event, which networked about 150 entrepreneurs and small-business owners with regional and state manufacturing experts. But more important than the numbers, according to Manufacturing & Technology Resource Consortium Program Manager Cynthia Colón, is the quality of both the presenters and the visitors.

“Last year, we had 150 attendees and we brought in a good amount of support agencies, both local and federal, to show what services are available to manufacturers on Long Island,” Colón told Innovate LI. “If we reach 150 again, that would make us happy, but what we really want is for new companies to come in and see what resources are available.

Cynthia Colón: Very resourceful.

“The most important thing is getting new businesses in here,” she added. “We are bringing all of these support agencies together under one roof, and that’s a very important resource for regional manufacturers.”

To maximize this resource, the Stony Brook-based MTRC, Albany’s regional Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, is working with a number of like-minded agencies to jam-pack the Nov. 13 symposium with critical information.

Its primary partner is the NYS Economic Development Council, which has logged a “fantastic” effort securing expert speakers on energy, cybersecurity and more, according to Colón.

“It’s difficult for the MTRC to reach out to so many partner agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties,” the program manager noted. “So, partnerships with organizations like the EDC help us greatly with outreach – not only to manufacturers across the Island, but to all of the support agencies out there.”

Stony Brook University engineering professor and MTRC Executive Director Imin Kao agreed that assembling the myriad resources under one roof “is what manufacturers need,” and said the EDC executive staff was instrumental to the cause.

Imin Kao: Big lift from EDC, Island IDAs.

“It is a great opportunity to work with (EDC Executive Director) Ryan Silva and (EDC Director of Programs and Strategic Partnerships) Emily Simmons to bring together so many support organizations,” Kao said Thursday. “One of our goals this coming year is to work closer with all of the IDAs to outreach to more manufacturers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and working with Ryan and Emily on events like this will assist in that goal.”

Representatives of the Nassau and Suffolk industrial development agencies will indeed be on-hand Nov. 13, as will a number of topic-specific manufacturing experts and other regional economic-development rainmakers.

A panel discussion on cybersecurity, for instance, is slated to be anchored by U.S. Navy Commander Patrick Lancaster, chief operating officer of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Master Station-Atlantic.

The symposium is scheduled to be keynoted by interim SBU President Michael Bernstein, a finishing touch that “rounds off a lot of the support and brings the full brunt of the university’s resources together,” according to Colón.

The complete roster of presenters and the symposium agenda are still being finalized, noted the MTRC program manager, who expects to cross the T’s within the next week.

But by weighing reactions to the inaugural 2018 conference and otherwise keeping their ears to the ground, event organizers are already confident this year’s Long Island Manufacturers’ Symposium will prove a key elixir for up-and-coming manufacturers in energy, medicine, advanced composites and other critical 21st century industries.

The EDC is “proud” to partner with SBU on bringing it all together, according to exec Silva.

“Manufacturing is a vital part of New York State’s economy,” he noted. “Our relationship with academia is critical to building successful public, private [and] academic partnerships.

“This year’s forum will highlight workforce-development resources, clean-energy resources, cybersecurity tools and programs designed to keep manufacturing companies growing and expanding here in New York State,” Silva added.