published on March 3, 2016 - 9:23 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Industry executives, government officials and students hoping to land a job flocked to the Fresno Convention Center Thursday to attend the 2016 San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Summit.

The day-long summit was presented by the San Joaquin Valley Regional Industry Clusters Initiative and included 16 informational breakout sessions as well as keynote addresses from Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Jay Williams, assistant secretary of the U.S. Economic Development Association and Brent Weil, senior vice president of The Manufacturing Institute.

Mike Betts, chairman and CEO of Fresno-based manufacturer Betts Co., was one of the driving forces behind this year’s summit. Betts is also the chairman of the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster Initiative, which is administered through the Office of Community & Economic Development at Fresno State.

“We couldn’t be more excited because this year’s summit is much bigger than last year’s,” Betts said. “More and more manufacturers are joining us as Fresno really is becoming the manufacturing hub of California.”

Betts said the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster Initiative “really wants to be the voice for manufacturing in our area.”

About 700 people attended this year’s summit, which featured twice as many exhibitors as last year’s event.

“We’re here to learn about the training we can help provide for the industry and get the word out about our programs,” said Marisa Maron, employer relations coordinator for the Institute of Technology in Clovis, one of the many exhibitors at the summit.

“Education really needs to keep up with the advanced technologies we’re seeing in manufacturing today,” Maron added.

Summit breakout sessions spotlighted some of the hottest current industry trends, including 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, robotics, ‘up-training’ and Six Sigma — which are data-driven techniques and tools used in the engineering and manufacturing industries to reduce product defects.

Each of the breakout sessions offered up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge information and technology, Betts said. “That means the people who attend these sessions will be able to take something back to their companies that immediately adds value.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Cluster Initiative was recently bolstered by an investment from the City of Fresno, which last month contributed $75,000 so that the group could hire a full-time business development director.


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