Camp to connect with new industry advocacy group
Manufacturing network Magnet formed with $1.7M in allocations from 73 organizations
When the Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program began in 1984, some within the business community considered it a bit player in the region's manufacturing community. But what's now known as Camp Inc. became an important cog in the Northeast Ohio economic machine during the last two decades, and it's about to enter a new stage in filling that role.
As early as February, Camp will operate as part of a new group with a longer title — the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network of Northeast Ohio, or Magnet. Last month, a group of 73 philanthropic foundations throughout Northeast Ohio allocated $1.7 million to create Magnet, which will focus on boosting the region's manufacturing capabilities.
With the change comes the task of pushing an agenda for spurring growth among the region's small and midsize manufacturers. Camp president Stephen Gage will become president of Magnet, which will be based at Camp's offices at 4600 Prospect Ave.A new agenda
Dr. Gage stressed that while the 'Camp' name will come down from the sign above its door, its programs and services will continue as before.
In addition to teaching lean manufacturing processes to area manufacturers, the nonprofit administers the state Edison Center and federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs. Camp's technological business incubator at 1768 E. 25th St. will continue to operate as well.
Camp's 65 staffers will continue to work at the Prospect Avenue offices and will concentrate on existing Camp programs. The staff will be headed by Fatima Weathers, Camp's current executive vice president of operations.
Although Magnet's annual budget hasn't been determined, Dr. Gage said he's in the process of hiring three directors to focus on community and regulatory affairs, marketplace issues, and manufacturing education.
A roundtable of business and community leaders during the last 18 months crafted a blueprint for advancing manufacturing in Northeast Ohio, which still relies heavily on the industrial sector. Within that blueprint was a model for Magnet.Partners abound
The idea behind Magnet was to create an entity with a regional reach and stature on par with the regional economic development group Team NEO, which was formed two years ago. Magnet will augment Team NEO as a regional economic development vehicle by driving a separate manufacturing agenda.
Dr. Gage said Magnet and Team NEO will work closely together. For instance, while Magnet officials will choose the at-large members of Magnet's board of directors, Team NEO likely will be responsible for choosing the board's chairman.
James Griffith, president and CEO of ball bearings maker Timken Co., has been chosen at the first chairman of Magnet's 18- to 20-member board, which will include executives from small, midsize and large manufacturing companies. Mr. Griffith was traveling last week and was not available to comment on his participation in Magnet.
Final board selections will not be determined until later in 2006.
A study released in October by consulting firm McKinsey and Co. concluded that Camp's transformation would offer Magnet the best opportunity for a successful launch. While not highly visible with 'politicos,' Camp during its 21-year history has become a discernible part of region's business community, Dr. Gage said.`We need to grow jobs'
Magnet will work directly with schools that include Cleveland State University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College to develop manufacturing-related training programs, as well as with WIRE-Net, a group that assists manufacturers on Cleveland's West Side.
'We're are going to be serving all of these providers,' Dr. Gage said.
It also will work closely with entrepreneurial support group JumpStart Inc.; BioEnterprise Corp., which assists biotech companies; and the Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition (NorTech), in addition to Team NEO. Most of the Magnet funds will be used for education initiatives, which will involve local colleges and universities, and advocacy efforts, which could involve Team NEO and Greater Cleveland Partnership.
Dr. Gage said he also hopes to draw on NorTech should future Magnet initiatives turn to product innovation. The enhanced collaboration among those different entities should make the region more competitive, he said.
Roy Church, president of Lorain County Community College, said Magnet should be a valuable resource not only for manufacturers, but also for local colleges and universities in helping them develop curriculums that emphasize manufacturing.
'Advanced manufacturing is such an important component to the region, it deserved to have its own focus and attention,' Dr. Church said.
Other local schools involved in the planning that led to the creation of Magnet were Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College in Lake County and the University of Akron.
Dr. Church has been asked to sit on the new Magnet board as one of two academic officials overseeing the group's development. While organizational details are being worked out, he said the board's underlying theme is firmly in place.
'We need to grow jobs,' Dr. Church said. 'And we need to grow companies to grow those jobs. That's really what it's all about.'