As Connecticut manufacturers continue to adjust to the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the way they have responded during this time has been impressive—including seamlessly adjusted supply and delivery schedules, shifting to telework, and continued productivity despite the major challenges posed by the crisis. It certainly creates optimism that when this issue eventually begins to subside and we return to normal, the industry will not have merely survived, but will be poised for continued success.
One area in which Connecticut manufacturers have particularly excelled during this crisis is the way many of them have adapted their focus for the time being and shifted to making products of critical importance during this pandemic. Media stories have been plentiful in recent days of manufacturing businesses in our state now beginning the production of essential items such as ventilators, masks and even protective gowns. It is turning into one more stellar example of “Yankee Ingenuity” in Connecticut’s long history of it, and the industry response has even been noted by Governor Lamont in a recent daily briefing. Manufacturers have always risen to the challenge here, and this crisis seems to be no exception.
Connecticut manufacturers should take note of a state program that exists to support them during this time, should they decide to temporarily shift their production focus to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Under the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program, businesses may have access to up to $75,000 in state grants should they decide to either realign their manufacturing capabilities or expand them to begin the production of PPE.
While the voucher program had already existed within Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), Governor Lamont recently announced it will now be used to support those businesses that are adapting their production to aid in the need for more critical COVID-19-related equipment, and be accessed for working capital, new equipment and other ways to help the companies to build capacity and/or alter their operations. Applications will be processed and approved by the DECD in partnership with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), and will be based on the current need for additional PPE in Connecticut.
As Connecticut manufacturers continue to adapt and streamline their operations to deal with the interruptions that have come with this crisis, this program is no doubt an avenue many of them should consider exploring. The demand for PPE right now is great, and Connecticut has the bandwidth to deliver; the state’s foresight in extending this program to meet the needs of the COVID-19 crisis is a prudent one.
Given the highly skilled manufacturing workforce that exists in Connecticut and the modern facilities so many of these companies feature, the state is ideally suited to rise to the occasion and take a leadership role in the production of this potentially life-saving equipment. The program keeps essential work right here at home while allowing these companies one more chance to innovate.