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Optimism Abounds for Maryland’s Manufacturing Industry

By: Kevin Connelly

There’s a lot to feel optimistic about when it comes to Maryland’s manufacturing industry. I recently sat in on a webinar presented by two of the state’s biggest manufacturing champions, the Maryland Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MD MEP) and Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland (RMI).

I walked away from this presentation feeling more excited than ever about the manufacturing industry in Maryland. Here’s why.

Reshoring & Manufacturing’s Return to the U.S.

“Reshoring” is the practice of businesses moving their operations closer to home, specifically, back to the U.S.

Reshoring helps manufacturers fend off fears about the troublesome geopolitical climate and continued concerns about supply chain challenges. U.S. voters overwhelmingly echo the desire to rebuild our nation’s manufacturing infrastructure, according to a 2024 report.

Randy Altschuler of Xometry reported that 76% of CEOs have successfully reshored some or all of their manufacturing facilities. As companies reshore, they are also doubling down on talent and technology. Altschuler said the trend of reshoring is gaining steam, and he only sees it continuing.

AI Will Only Enhance the Industry & Job Opportunities

Nearly every CEO polled in Xometry’s survey indicated that AI already does or will play a role in their manufacturing operations.

CEOs whose businesses are already using some aspect of AI indicate that they’ve seen a positive impact. Some businesses have seen improved operational efficiencies and supply chain management thanks to this technology. CEOs believe that investing in AI, such as automation robotics, will positively impact their bottom line.

While we hear some concern about AI taking away jobs from the manufacturing industry, there is a compelling case for AI actually doing the opposite ― it will enhance jobs and opportunities within the manufacturing sector.

Programs for Recruiting Young People Into Manufacturing

One thing is abundantly clear: there’s no shortage of robust programs for bringing young workers into Maryland’s manufacturing industry.

You can see MD MEP’s talent and workforce offerings for manufacturers here.

In addition, presenters in the webinar offered plenty of ideas for attracting the interest of young people before they even enter the workforce. MD MEP’s manufacturing internship program is a notable example.

Manufacturers are also encouraged to open their doors to school groups so students can see manufacturing at work. There’s a need to change the perception of what manufacturing looks like. It no longer always resembles factory workers assembling cars in Detroit. Instead, students are more likely to have their interest piqued by seeing AI and other technologies in use.

Optimism Doesn’t Come Without Concerns

Maryland’s manufacturing industry could use more funding to (1) keep up with neighboring states and (2) continue to bring more advanced technologies into Maryland businesses.

Maryland’s Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 Grant Program offered some funding (we wrote about it here), but I’d argue that more funding is needed.

Maryland voters seem to agree. According to a poll, the majority of voters say they support using public money to develop Maryland’s manufacturing industry. They also support the training of young people to pursue careers in manufacturing.

If you missed the lively discussion about the state of Maryland’s manufacturing industry, presented by MD MEP and RMI of Maryland, you can watch it below.

The webinar includes:

  • Lots of discussion about AI, which we are all still learning about
  • Insights for bringing young people into manufacturing careers
  • Updates on the status of Industry 4.0 grant applications

Need Help?

We’re always happy to talk about manufacturing and ideas for improving business profitability. Contact us here or call 800.899.4623.

Published January 25, 2024

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