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June 24, 2013 Q&A

‘Made in CT’ touts state manufacturers

Q&A talks about efforts to showcase Connecticut manufacturers with Bonnie Del Conte, president & CEO of CONNSTEP Inc. 

Q: What is “Made in CT”? How long has it been around and how is it financed? Is it primarily focused on the business-to-business community?

A: Made in CT is a program providing increased public exposure for companies that produce products here in the state and their contributions to the Connecticut manufacturing industry. CONNSTEP launched the Made in CT online directory in October 2012, the month that the state has dedicated to manufacturing. The online portal includes company profile pages, optimized for search, where participating manufacturers showcase products, services and company news, with the goal of increasing their online presence. Made in CT allows manufacturers to reach a broader audience, including fellow manufacturers, elected officials, the general public and, most importantly, interested buyers.

All Made in CT manufacturers are connected to the “Make it in America” portal through CONNSTEP’s affiliation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST/MEP) as the Connecticut MEP Center. National presence through this portal showcases industry leaders who are developing innovative products and hiring America’s workforce. This partnership, and the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), provides support in addition to our organization’s fees for services.

Q: How do you quantify the success of a website like Page views can’t be an accurate barometer. What are some other metrics used?

A: While a relatively new program, we are measuring the increasing success of Made in CT in multiple ways. In addition to page views, metrics include the number of participating companies, number of new applications received on a weekly basis, as well as the number of calls and emails received. We do have plans to survey the participating companies, inquiring on the growth opportunities they have realized, and advise them on ways that the program can become more of a valuable complement to their business development efforts.

Q: Eligible companies receive a complimentary profile on the website. What are the qualifications for eligibility?

A: To participate, companies must have a primary or secondary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code starting with 31 to 33. Additionally, the manufacturing or processing and/or the final assembly of the product must be done in a manufacturing facility in the state to qualify as a Made in CT manufacturer. Companies servicing the Connecticut manufacturing industry like platers and heat treaters are included.

Q: According to the Made in CT website, Connecticut is home to 5,000 manufacturers who employ nearly 170,000 people and generate more than 12.7 percent of the state’s GDP. What percent of those manufacturers would be considered “Made in CT” companies?

A: At the last CT Department of Labor count [end of 2012], there were 4,808 companies, employing 166,279 people.

While we keep current with the demographics of the state’s industry through various sources, the qualifying information we obtain on where the production facility is located addresses the percent that would be considered as Made in CT companies. Many companies, however, have corporate headquarters in the state but do the manufacturing elsewhere, therefore they would not be eligible to participate.

Q: Along those lines, is there an active outreach to get companies to register? How do you go about attracting businesses to sign up? Or do you wait for companies to come to you?

A: At the launch of the Made in CT program, we conducted a comprehensive and wide reaching campaign to the industry on the benefits of participation. In just three months after the launch, we had 100 participating companies on the site, and are currently approaching 130. Our continued efforts are aligned with all CONNSTEP activities to serve the marketplace as a resource to our manufacturers. Our goal is to have a significant representation of the diverse products made in the Nutmeg State.

Q: Maybe Governor Perry’s visit to CT brings this to mind, but do websites like this make these companies more vulnerable to poaching by other states? Or do websites like this, in some way, make companies more loyal to the state?

A: Unfortunately, the practice of “poaching” industry by other states is nothing new. By showcasing the manufacturers in Connecticut, we are sharing best practices for doing business within the state among the manufacturing sector. For visibility nationally, promoting high quality Connecticut products may lure others from outside the state to help fill capacity needs and partner with our Connecticut companies, building stronger domestic supply chains.

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