The Cluster & NAmTrans in 2020: A Year In Review
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Country’s Transportation Equipment & Aerospace cluster has not only survived 2020 but has grown – proving once again its resilience and ability to not only adapt but thrive during tough times.
Looking back, it can be difficult to remember a time pre-pandemic but in October of 2019, Nova Bus – in partnership with BAE Systems of Endicott, NY – introduced the LFSe+, their first long-range electric bus. As Nova Bus is the only bus manufacturer in New York State, and as New York State continues to lead the way in the push for green energy technologies and the electrification of their transit fleets, this poses a huge opportunity for the North Country to become the leading producer of electric buses for not only the state, but the entire country. And only nine months ago, Nova Bus and Prevost announced the largest contracts in company history (in terms of dollar amount) from the MTA. It goes without saying, but is important to note, that the positive impact of these contracts will not only be felt by Nova and Prevost but the dozens of other NAmTrans manufacturers who supply them. And today, after having adapted to the many changes that the pandemic brought through the summer and fall, both Nova and Prevost are now hiring new employees and gearing up to begin these contracts.
Norsk Titanium remains at an exciting point in its development – nearing not only the completion of it’s new facility but most recently entering into the US defense market with new Department of Defense contracts. This poses a unique opportunity and an exciting prospect for more defense contract related work for our region in the future.
And even Alstom’s pending acquisition of Bombardier Transportation – set to take place on January 29th, 2021 – which was initially seen as scary and uncertain still bodes well for our region. The combination of these two companies should allow for them to compete even more effectively for future contract opportunities, keeping the Plattsburgh facility (and its many suppliers) very busy for years to come.
Last but certainly not least, even during a pandemic the Transportation Equipment & Aerospace Cluster continues to attract new companies and grow. In November, the Chamber and NAmTrans were pleased to join our partners at The Development Corporation in welcoming their newest tenant and our newest member of the cluster, KHROME, to 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 cluster manufacturers, ensuring they have what they need to succeed, grow, and thrive in the North Country.
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 every company that comprises our cluster for their support and investment in our region.
Check out some of our work on the cluster’s behalf below:
Helped provide training to over 88 employees from 14 cluster companies, through a combination of virtual and on-site programs, in partnership with our partners at CITEC and the Workforce Development Institute (WDI).
Developed a Strategic Plan, in consultation with the NAmTrans Advisory Board, cluster, and partners, that will guide NAmTrans for the foreseeable future – this plan continues to be reviewed and updated as needed.
Maintained constant communication with cluster companies throughout the pandemic including the implementation of quarterly surveys that began with our COVID-19 Needs Assessment – this has helped us focus our efforts to not only assist, but grow, the cluster through programming and FDI activities.
Assisted cluster companies in navigating everchanging COVID restrictions, guidelines, and resources; provided information on and answered questions about essential business designation applications, business safety plans, and more.
Welcomed five new members to the NAmTrans Advisory Board and held four meetings over the course of the year.
Continued our successful digital workforce recruitment ad campaign – using videos and photos from cluster 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. Worked with Bombardier Transportation to obtain additional photos and videos
Attended, participated in, and hosted panels at transportation themed events, hosted by partners both in the U.S. and Canada, to show prospective companies all that our region and cluster have to offer.
Continued to build our social media presence, posting regular content and attracting more than 1,100 followers across all platforms.
Continued to send our monthly newsletter, “NAmTrans News”, to a growing subscriber base of more than 1,400 contacts.
Assisted the North Country Chamber of Commerce in hosting dozens of webinars on topics of interest to the cluster – ranging from COVID guidelines/safety precautions, paid sick leave/expanded FMLA, USMCA, federal relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, and much more.
Worked alongside the North Country Chamber of Commerce to update the North Country Good Life – a website to assist with out-of-area employee recruitment, attraction, and relocation.
Began facilitating discussions between Clarkson University and Clinton Community College to generate sharing and collaboration, including expanded articulation and transfer opportunities, and enhanced training at the IAM.
Assisted with the planning of the 2020 Virtual North Country Manufacturing Day.
Attended and exhibited at the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) Career Fair at Fort Drum in Watertown, NY. Making both transitioning servicemembers and their families aware of the many career opportunities available in the North Country’s Transportation Equipment and Aerospace Cluster.
Presented to community-based organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary, and county governments on the importance of the cluster and how NAmTrans supports it.
Began planning for 2021 including the next iteration of our Quebec-NY Transportation Rendezvous/B2B event, a soon-to-be announced event with our partners at FuzeHub, and much more.