Manufacturings Our DNA Says Fort Smith Arkansas So Lets Celebrate

Manufacturing's Our DNA Says Fort Smith, Arkansas -- So Let's Celebrate

Oct. 3, 2014

In spite of the significant drop in manufacturing employment in the Fort Smith region, as reported by,  it is still among the area's largest employment sectors and Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Allen said that was why Manufacturing Day is being celebrated locally.

"Manufacturing is part and parcel of Fort Smith's DNA," Allen said. "The chance to recognize the importance of this national focus is exciting. Particularly when you realize Fort Smith's history and future when it comes to manufacturing."

The Fort Smith area manufacturing sector employed an estimated 18,000 in August, down from 18,200 in July, and down from 18,400 August 2013, as reported by Ryan Saylor. Sector employment is down almost 37% from a decade ago when August 2004 manufacturing employment in the metro area stood at 28,400.

However the sector is still growing in terms of innovation. The city is taking the day to celebrate the new certificate program in robotics created at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. The program received $300,000 from Gov. Mike Beebe to help launch the program, as well as receiving a donation of equipment from Baldor.  A tour of the new robotics lab at the Baldor Technology Center on the university campus is being held today.

Baldor will also open its manufacturing plant to the public. "Through this year's event we will share best practices with other local manufacturers, educate the community on the impact manufacturing has on the regional economy, and raise awareness of the career opportunities manufacturing provides," the company said on the National Manufacturing Day website.

Throughout the state there will be 21 events honoring Manufacturing Day. 

Check out IndustryWeek's complete coverage of Manufacturing Day 2014.

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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