Summit Will Focus on Future of Manufacturing

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass.-The challenges and opportunities facing the manufacturing industry will be the focus of an economic summit at WPI on Sept. 15. "Manufacturing Our Future" will examine the ways in which manufacturers in Worcester and the region will need to respond to market demands of the global economy to maximize their strengths and resources.

The Central Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership Inc., the Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce, and the Colleges of Worcester Consortium, in cooperation with U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, are organizing the summit, which is sponsored by AllEnergy LLC, the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette and Fleet Bank. The event is expected to draw about 400 local, state and national leaders from industry, academia and government.

Michael Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School who is a leading authority on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, will be the keynote speaker. Porter is the author of 14 books and more than 50 articles. His most recent initiative is a study of economic development in America's inner cities that was first published in the Harvard Business Review as "The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City."

The program has been organized into five focus groups: Manufacturing Clusters; Higher Education: Connecting Higher Education to Manufacturing/Building Partnerships That Move From Research to Manufacturing; Workforce Education Training; Industrial Development; and Environment/Infrastructure: Connecting Manufacturing with Government Resources. Members of each group have been meeting for several weeks prior to the summit. On Sept. 15, they will present papers that describe industry needs and suggest new responses to the challenges. Summit participants will then discuss and respond to each paper. Each focus group intends to announce a new initiative that has resulted from their earlier work. The day will conclude with a networking reception.

"We are very excited about this focus on the manufacturing community and its central role in the well-being of the regional economy," says William W. Durgin, associate provost for academic affairs, who represented WPI on the Planning Committee. "The linkages between the colleges of Worcester and manufacturers is critically important to our future. WPI's founders were manufacturers and the university has helped to launch new ventures and to develop the strength of established businesses. The summit is one way for WPI to recognize and strengthen the relationship between the city's industries and educational institutions."

A Web site for the Economic Summit may be reached at http://www.telegram.com/mof.