Pictured: EPave, a product that makes parking lot areas generate less heat is made in Oxnard. Photo submitted. 

by David Goldstein

You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry. That folksy truism applies well to pandemic-related interruptions of global supply chains for manufacturing. 

Not enough computer chip manufacturing to meet demand? The result is high prices and waiting lists for products ranging from appliances to cars. Not enough residential-sized toilet paper roll manufacturing to meet demand? The result is panic buying and shortages. 

Last Friday, Oct. 1, was Manufacturing Day, an annual commemoration coordinated by the National Manufacturing Association on the first Friday of October. Manufacturing turns raw material into valuable products. In Ventura County, this creation of wealth supports average manufacturing sector wages of $118,627 per year, compared to an average of just $38,868 per year in the retail sector, according to the website of the Camarillo-based Economic Development Collaborative (EDC). 

“Manufacturing provides over 10.5% of private sector jobs in Ventura County, significantly more than the statewide share of 9%,” said Bruce Stenslie, EDC president and CEO.

Recycling is a special kind of manufacturing, providing an additional economic benefit. While most manufacturers acquire materials by mining minerals, felling timber, drilling for petroleum, synthesizing chemicals, or carrying out some other industrial process, recycling-based manufacturing mines the urban waste stream. When you wheel your recycling cart to the curb, you are supplying raw material to industry, and the difference between the value of garbage (around -$50 dollars per ton) and the value of products made from those materials (potentially thousands of dollars per ton) begins to enter the economy.

The EDC offers a variety of assistance to local manufacturers, and the Ventura County Recycling Market Development Zone (VCRMDZ) offers additional assistance specific to recycling-based manufacturers. The EDC’s no-cost consulting includes assistance with locating sources of capital; accessing local and state incentives; assistance with permitting and site selection; and presentation of guides, eBooks, webinars and toolkits. The EDC’s partnership with California’s Manufacturers Accelerator Program includes one-on-one advising, action plan development, succession planning, marketing advice for sales growth, and access to productivity tools and resources. 

The VCRMDZ offers similar services, but geared toward manufacturing with recycled, reused, or source reduced materials. “Source reduced” means a product is made with less raw material, lasts longer, or has some other waste-reducing property. As an example of source reduction, the RMDZ program made a low-interest, $290,000 direct loan to Trupart, in Ventura, which bought a laser cutter to nest parts manufactured from blank sheets of material. The RMDZ’s affiliation with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) assists with sourcing discarded material for manufacturing, provides free listings on recyclestore.com, and provides a mentor to guide businesses through accessing state and local resources. 

Job training is a major challenge faced by manufacturers, and for Manufacturing Day, the National Manufacturers Association and the Manufacturing Institute used a joint website, mfgday.com, to call attention to the “need to fill 4.6 million modern manufacturing jobs in America by 2028.”

“Older workers are retiring, taking with them the skills and know-how they’ve accrued over the decades,” said Sam Zheng, CEO of DeepHow, a company focusing on knowledge transfer for manual trades. “An effective skills training strategy is crucial to attract younger workers into manufacturing careers.”

One local union, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, LiUna, Local 585, recently addressed this challenge by training 10 of their members to install a practical and environmentally beneficial product made in Oxnard. The product, ePAVE, is a surfacing material for repairing cracked asphalt and extending pavement life. These source reduction benefits combine with an additional environmental characteristic. ePAVE is light in color, reducing the heat absorption of asphalt enough to lower air conditioning costs of adjacent buildings. LiUNA workers surfaced their Ventura office’s parking lot with ePAVE. The surfacing material costs approximately $1,500 for material to cover a 2,500 square foot parking lot.

Manufacturers are engines of prosperity, some manufacturers make environmentally beneficial products, and training new workers for available jobs is essential.

Contacts:

Economic Development Collaborative  edcollaborative.com

Recycling Market Development Zone  www.vcpublicworks.org/rmdz 

LiUna, Local 585  local585.org/contact-us/ 

Manufacturing Day  www.manufacturingusa.com/manufacturing-day-2021

ePAVE  www.epavellc.com

David Goldstein, Ventura County Environmental Resource Analyst, can be reached at david.goldstein@ventura.org or 805-658-4312.