A Note from Our Director:
As 2021 has come to a close, we at NAmTrans would like to take a moment to reflect on the past year.
Looking back at our 2020 year in review, I would have never fathomed that we would still be dealing with challenges, some new and some old, posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as we enter the new year. But alas, here we are, and I am proud to say that despite these many challenges – supply chain hurdles, border restrictions, and workforce shortages that are being faced by manufacturers and all employers worldwide – our North Country Transportation Equipment & Aerospace cluster has not only survived another year but has continued to innovate, invest, and grow during these challenging times.
Our cluster is comprised of three unique sectors – rail, road, and aerospace so let’s take a look at how each has fared and recap some of the biggest happenings this year.
The year began with Alstom’s acquisition of Bombardier Transportation on January 29th. As many know, Bombardier opened their rolling-stock manufacturing site in Plattsburgh in 1995 following the closure of Plattsburgh Air Force Base. In 2020, the Bombardier Plattsburgh site celebrated its 25th Anniversary and celebrated building nearly 4,500 vehicles that have, and continue to, transport people all over the world. Alstom’s acquisition of Bombardier has made the Plattsburgh plant an even more competitive player in the market with its new added assets and abilities through Alstom.
Looking to the future, the Plattsburgh Alstom plant is already on course to be very busy over the next 5-7 years as a result of a large contract from New Jersey Transit (NJT), with even more future contract opportunities on the horizon thanks to the new federal infrastructure bill recently signed into law.
Since the acquisition, the Chamber and NAmTrans have developed several new, valuable relationships with senior Alstom team members and, as we had done with Bombardier in the past, we are doing everything in our power to support their operations including bringing key members of the NYS legislature to see their impressive Plattsburgh plant firsthand. We once again welcome Alstom to our community and look forward to a bright future together.
As New York State and other states across the nation continue to move toward electrifying their transit fleets and employing new green technologies, Plattsburgh has quickly established itself as a hub for hybrid and fully-electric transit bus manufacturing thanks to the commitment and investment of Nova Bus and their power propulsion partners at BAE Systems.
In March, Nova Bus received their first U.S. order for their long-range, fully-electric transit bus model the LFSe+. This order from the Milwaukee County Transit System for fifteen electric LFSe+ buses are to be produced at Nova’s Plattsburgh facility. This order was quickly followed by another order for three (3) LFSe+ model buses from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SMFTA). These orders, while they may appear small in size, are very large in impact as communities who may have otherwise never worked with Nova Bus, like San Francisco, now get to experience their technology first-hand.
These U.S. orders, in addition to other large orders being placed/built in Canada, are just the beginning. We anticipate even more U.S. orders for the LFSe+ to be announced in the not-too-distant future and these will keep Nova’s Plattsburgh plant and many local suppliers busy for years to come.
It comes as no surprise that the aerospace industry has faced some difficult challenges over the past two years, the likes of which have impacted not only airlines and airports, but the aerospace manufacturing industry as well. Despite these many challenges, Norsk Titanium remains at an exciting point in its development – having recently completed construction on their 2nd location in Plattsburgh, their Plattsburgh Production Center (PPC).
Norsk continues to produce parts for Boeing Tier-1 suppliers, amongst other customers. They continue to make progress toward obtaining supplier status for Airbus among other commercial aerospace customers and continue to pursue other applications for their market disruptive 3D printed titanium parts in other industries such as Defense, Energy Production, other industrial applications – having recently developed the first production part for a US Department of Defense (DoD) prime contractor in Q3 2021. Read more
Having posted both operational progress and a strengthened financial position in 2021, and achieving some major accomplishments including being listed on the Euronext Growth in Oslo and growing their commercial aerostructures customer base, the future looks bright for Norsk Titanium.
One of the most recent, but exciting developments for the North Country’s Transportation Equipment and Aerospace cluster has been the emergence of Beta Technologies. Beta, based out of Burlington, VT is currently valued at a billion dollars and is on the cusp of making the major leagues with Alia, a potentially groundbreaking electric aircraft known as an e-VTOL.
Recently featured in Forbes Magazine, Beta already has orders for their aircraft from major players such as Amazon and UPS, with interest from many others. The connection to our NAmTrans Cluster? Beta is currently conducting test flights of their e-VTOLs right here at Plattsburgh International Airport and their current plans for the future include a larger presence in Plattsburgh, one which the Chamber and NAmTrans actively support. The Chamber and NAmTrans are actively engaged in conversation with Beta’s team, they’ll have a major role in our upcoming Quebec-NY Transportation Rendezvous and B2B. We cannot wait to see where the future takes Beta and their relationship with Plattsburgh.
And all the while, the North Country Chamber of Commerce and NAmTrans have worked diligently throughout the year to provide the support needed to not only to the manufacturers listed above, but the growing 60+ companies here in the North Country to ensure they have what they need to succeed, grow, and thrive.
But we could not, and did not, do it alone. So, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for our many regional economic development partners, our wonderful local educational institutions, and the entire staff at the North Country Chamber of Commerce (of whom we are a subsidiary). We’d be remiss not to also give special recognition to our advisory board members and every company that comprises our cluster for their support and investment in our region.
Finally, we would also like to thank Assemblyman Billy Jones who believes in our mission and has consistently provided the financial support to make NAmTrans, and the support we provide to our manufacturers, a reality.
Check out the highlights from 2021 and some of our work on the cluster’s behalf below:
- Helped provide a variety of training to over 35 employees from 11 different cluster companies, through a combination of virtual and in-person, classroom style programs. Training topics included leadership, lean manufacturing, digital marketing, and more. Training provided in partnership and with support from our partners at CITEC, the Workforce Development Institute (WDI), and TDC.
- Recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) with a Silver Level Excellence in Economic Development Award in the Multi-Year Economic Development Project category for all that we’ve done in support of the cluster.
- Maintained frequent communication with cluster companies throughout the year and assisted them in navigating the continuing, everchanging COVID restrictions, guidelines, and resources.
- Assisted NAmTrans manufacturers in recovering at least $550,000 in COVID relief funding via programs such as PPP, EIDL, NYS SBRG, AMJP, and others.
- Officially welcomed seven (7) new companies to the NAmTrans Cluster including Beta Technologies, Seifert Transit Graphics, Durbin Machine North, Durbin Machine Inc, Winn Manufacturing, Sturges Electronics, and Frank Murken Products (FMP).
- Launched “On-the-Job with Joel”, a new video series comprised of 6 videos at 6 local manufacturers that tells the story of how a Nova Bus transit bus is built in the North Country. Videos are meant to dispel myths around working in manufacturing and expose the public to career opportunities. The first three videos in the series have been viewed a total of 966 times across all platforms. More videos will be released next year – including a special episode with Assemblyman Billy Jones.
- Launched “We Make the World Move”, a new series on WIRY Hometown Radio. From September 1st through December 31st, over 15 episodes aired. Joel was joined by four (4) guests from the cluster. Conversations about their companies, products, career opportunities, and more were had.
- Assisted a NAmTrans Cluster Company (local machine shop) in developing a new logo, brand, and website to help attract new customers. This project was partially funded by NAmTrans and was also supported financially by WDI. CITEC Business Solutions led the project. Check out the website for yourself.
- Added to the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project as the official cluster support organization of transportation equipment manufacturers in Upstate NY.
- Welcomed five new members to the NAmTrans Advisory Board and held six meetings over the course of the year.
- Obtained over 100 new, professional photographs from six (6) cluster companies. These photos are being used in our workforce recruitment ad campaign, newsletter, website, and more.
- Released six (6) new employee interview videos featuring two (2) employees from Alstom (legacy Bombardier) speaking about their career paths. Videos are being featured on all NAmTrans platforms.
- Relaunched our digital workforce recruitment ad campaign – using new videos and photos from companies on social media, google display ads, and more to help change the perception of manufacturing and help cluster companies obtain the employees they need.
- In a little over 3 months this has resulted in over 1,000 people visiting our careers tab on namtrans.org and over 300 clicks on at least one of the “apply now” buttons.
- Assisted the North Country Chamber of Commerce in leading visits from, and conversations with, a number of federal, state, and Canadian government officials around topics important to the cluster. Officials included but were not limited to NYS Assemblyman Assemblyman Jones, NYS Senators Dan Stec, Tim Kennedy, and Bill Magnarelli. Federal Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Delegate General Martine Hebert and Deputy Consul General André Frenette.
- Continued to build our social media presence, posting regular content and attracting more than 1,350 followers across all platforms.
- Continued to send our monthly newsletter, “NAmTrans News”, to a growing subscriber base of more than 1,500 contacts. New sponsors of NAmTrans News in 2021 included Alstom and UFirst Federal Credit Union.
- Assisted the North Country Chamber of Commerce in hosting dozens of webinars and programming on topics of interest to the cluster – ranging from the Supply Chain Crisis/Best Practices, to USMCA and Buy America, to COVID guidelines/safety precautions, to federal and state COVID relief programs and so much more.
- Worked alongside the North Country Chamber of Commerce to fully translate and launch a true bilingual version of North Country Good Life – a website originally updated and relaunched in 2020 that is used by the cluster, and many other regional employers, to assist with out-of-area employee recruitment, attraction, and relocation.
- Organized conversations which culminated in signing of a new MOU between Clinton Community College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Clarkson University in support of our region’s manufacturers.
- Assisted with planning and organizing North Country Manufacturing Day 2021 Ensured cluster company representation at the event, including having a bus from Nova Bus. The event was attended by nearly 300 local high school students.
- Worked alongside the North Country Chamber of Commerce to launch NYMTL: Where NY Meets Montreal – a new foreign direct investment (FDI) website which highlights all of the opportunities and advantages of locating a business in the greater-Plattsburgh region. Currently being used by the Chamber and NAmTrans to engage with prospective companies interested in expanding into our region.
- The Chamber/NAmTrans are actively promoting the site to companies in the greater-Montreal region. In a little over 2 months this has resulted in 715 visits to the site and over 20 phone calls from prospective companies.
- Planned, organized, and cohosted “How the North Country Keeps the World Moving”, a virtual North Country Solutions Forum event, attended by more than 100+ participants from 50+ manufacturers. Event was hosted in April 2021 by FuzeHub and co-hosted by NAmTrans and CITEC.
- Renewed membership agreements with our partners at Aero Montreal and Propulsion Quebec. Relationship continues to be strengthened especially around planning of our Quebec-NY Transportation Rendezvous event.
- Finalized date for our 2022 Quebec-NY Transportation Rendezvous & B2B event – March 22, 2022 – in Plattsburgh, NY. Event sponsors have been lined up and registration will open in January.
- Welcomed a $10,000 Platinum level sponsorship of both the Chamber and NAmTrans from Alstom – recognizing the support we’ve provided and our mutual interest in maintaining Plattsburgh as a center for rolling stock production in upstate NY.
- Represented all cluster companies at regional career fairs, including SUNY Plattsburgh’s School of Business & Economics in October 2021.