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Keynote Address

Kevin Kelley
Kevin Kelley

RTMA / MCC Open House

On November 17th, the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) sponsored and hosted an open house at Monroe Community College Applied Technologies Center. The purpose was to promote the Precision Machining Program. As there is a chronic shortage of qualified candidates for the Precision Machining Industry, we wanted to encourage potential students to enroll in the January Semester. Typically, enrollment is soft for this semester.

Collaborating with our colleagues from Monroe Community College, we invested in a promotional campaign which involved radio advertising for 10 days preceding the event.

As part of the program, to make the case for a career in Precision Machining, Lou Romano, President of Romold, shared his story with the attendees. It is a record of seized opportunity and success.

Bob Lasch, Program Coordinator of the Precision Machining, gave an overview of the curriculum. Tours of the Applied Tech Center followed. There were MCC Admissions and Financial Aid Staff present to provide information and assistance to those in attendance.

There were 85 attendees of which 55 were potential machining students. 3 enrolled in the January Semester immediately, and 31 filled out inquiry cards which defined their interest as potential students.

Workforce development continues to be a priority for the RTMA. Our goal is for the members to hire the graduates from the Precision Machining Program and build their workforce.

We are the fortunate to have Monroe Community College as our strategic partner for education and training. Together, we continue to make the case for manufacturing.

Member Highlight

CCMI, Inc.
CCMI, Inc.

CCMI Plastics

CCMI, Inc. is a source for plastic fabrication, machining, and cut sheet heavy gauge thermoforming, and value added services. We not only work with most plastics, we are able to work with a variety materials like steel-SS, CR, Aluminum, Wood, Solid Surfaces to name a few.

CCMI vision is a fabricator of custom products made of a variety of materials that are at a level of Quality that meet the Customer's expectations, are delivered when promised and are at a price that the Customer feels is fair. Increased growth in the number of revenue and net-income will be achieved each successive year by the successful implementation of the "CCMI Mission".

CCMI mission is to actively grow the Customer base by developing new markets and new business relationships as well as retaining existing Customers. Primary focus will be on low volume (short-run) Customer needs, but mid and high volume capabilities will be available to a Customer, as their volume needs increase.

CCMI, Inc. Capabilities

Political Advocacy

Sewing clothes last month at a garment factory in Jimo, in Shandong province. Credit Liang Xiao Peng/Imaginechina, via Getty Images
Sewing clothes last month at a garment factory in Jimo, in Shandong province. Credit Liang Xiao Peng/Imaginechina, via Getty Images

So What Would It Mean to 'Beat China' on Trade?

If you were Donald Trump, you would probably summarize the academic paper's finding as follows: China is beating us.

A new working paper from the economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson argues that trade with China is having persistent, negative effects on parts of the American labor market. Research from the same authors, published in 2013, found that the American workers most exposed to Chinese trade have experienced material declines in wages, higher unemployment and an increased likelihood of receiving government benefits like disability payments.

"The idea that trade competition with China has hurt various workers and communities is nothing new and extremely well known to people and voters in those communities," said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Just because Donald Trump says it doesn't mean it isn't true."

But Mr. Bernstein has historically been in the minority within the economics profession on this issue. Because trade increases overall global economic output, economists have generally thought workers who lost their jobs because of imports would move fairly rapidly into other, expanding economic sectors. Any dislocation would be minor relative to the benefits, they said.

Now, some minds are changing. The process of labor market adjustment is "gummier than anybody realized," said Mr. Hanson, a professor at the University of California at San Diego. The persistent negative effects of Chinese trade on much of the American labor market have "toppled much of the received wisdom about the impact of trade on labor markets," Mr. Hanson wrote with his co-authors, especially the "consensus that trade could be strongly redistributive in theory but was relatively benign in practice."

In fairness to the economics profession, that consensus emerged mostly because workers actually did adjust more easily to trade in the past. Global trade soared in the four decades after World War II without apparent negative effects on labor markets in rich countries. But most of this trade was between rich countries, and exposing Ohio workers to competition with Ontario workers wasn't that much different from the competition they always had with Michigan workers.

As Mr. Gordon and his co-authors describe, the rise of trade with China since 1991 increasingly exposed American workers to competition from those who would work for much less, causing particular problems for lower-skilled workers.

There is also a damaging trade imbalance. The rise of Chinese exports would not have had such negative effects on the American labor market if it had been offset by a commensurate rise of Chinese imports. More exports to China would have created American jobs, both in exporting industries and in the sectors that support those industries, making it easier for displaced workers to find new jobs.

Instead, China has run a persistent trade surplus. What that really means is that Chinese consumers save much of their income from export industries instead of using it to consume imports. This is one of the major "global imbalances" identified by Ben Bernanke, the former Fed chief, as a driver of both high unemployment and asset price bubbles in the United States.

The big question is what to do about any of this, and it's a lot easier to find common ground about the problem than the solution.

Mr. Trump says he will "beat China," whatever that means. This month, in a meeting with The New York Times editorial board, he floated the idea of a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports and then denied he had ever suggested such a move.

Mr. Bernstein has advocated provisions in international agreements that punish countries for manipulating their currencies, as China did for years, depressing the value of its currency to help its manufacturers undercut other countries on price. But while such rules would help level the playing field in the future, they wouldn't do much today because China's currency is no longer overly weak, Mr. Bernstein said.

Dean Baker, an economist who I find usually agrees with Mr. Bernstein on trade matters, told me the opposite: that China's currency is still too weak, held down by huge investments in American bonds held by the Chinese central bank. If they sold those bonds, he said, China's currency would strengthen, American manufacturers would be in a better position to compete, and the trade deficit would shrink.

Mr. Bernanke told me last year that trade imbalances are a problem that can't be dealt with through formulaic rules and are instead a matter for international diplomacy. That is, we must urge countries that are running persistent and unjustified trade surpluses to stop it.

Mr. Hanson expressed skepticism that any public policy tools would be effective in combating the imbalance of trade because the exact source of the imbalance is a "puzzle," much of it far removed from what you would traditionally think of as trade policy. For example, he argued that the one-child policy perpetuated the trade imbalance by driving Chinese workers to save instead of consuming, as they knew they would enter old age without many children to support them.

"The problem is not trade liberalization," he said. "Trade is going to lead to the reallocation of workers across sectors, generating income growth for the world as a whole, even if you have distributional effects along the way. The problem is that labor market adjustment is too slow."

As such, Mr. Hanson calls for changes in our own economy: reforms to labor, housing and safety-net policy that would make it easier and less painful for workers to move to new regions and switch to new industries - whether such moves were necessitated by global trade or any other economic shifts.

But Mr. Baker argued there are more opportunities to use the diplomatic channels identified by Mr. Bernanke to make trade with China less harmful to American workers. He noted that currency manipulation and the trade deficit are existing items on the American diplomatic agenda with China; the question is how high they rank, and what issues American officials really care about winning on.

"We have a list of things," he said. "We want you to respect Bill Gates's copyrights, we want you to respect patents, Goldman Sachs wants more access. There's a list, and currency is on it."

Hmm. If the problem is we've been botching our negotiations with China by focusing on the wrong things, I can think of a candidate who's been saying something similar to that. Like the reform conservatives before them, trade-skeptical economists can be added to the list of policy thinkers who are hearing from the Trump campaign a policy message they've long promoted, coming from a messenger they don't like, expressed in terms they'd rather not be associated with.

"Characterizing it as 'us versus China' is inflammatory, jingoistic, if you like, racist," Mr. Baker said. "A lot of the companies doing the exporting are U.S. companies. So it's not China, it's our companies. Walmart has low-cost supply chains throughout China." So, for that matter, did Mr. Trump's apparel line.

Yet Mr. Baker still endorses the idea that a frank negotiation that puts the weight on the right issues could improve American workers' trading position with China.

"The question is, what exactly is he telling China?" Mr. Baker said, regarding a hypothetical Trump presidency. "It would have to be part of a give and take; it's going to be about priorities. It might mean giving up on certain priorities. So in that sense he could do it, but it's not a question of beating them up; he'd have to give things up."

Correction: January 29, 2016

An Upshot article on Thursday about the effects of China trade on the United States labor market misstated Ben Bernanke's advice for addressing the problem of trade imbalances between nations. Mr. Bernanke, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said countries that run persistent and unjustified trade surpluses - not trade deficits - must be urged to change their ways.

Education & Training

Lifting Families Out of Poverty and Into Advanced Manufacturing Careers
Lifting Families Out of Poverty and Into Advanced Manufacturing Careers

Lifting Families Out of Poverty and Into Advanced Manufacturing Careers

After high school, Patricio Siaca went straight to work and over the years held various jobs, ranging from a factory equipment operator to retail management. Geneo Brown dropped out of high school to help raise his child. But he never gave up on his education and eventually earned his GED.

Both men struggled to find stable, good-paying careers and wanted nothing more than to build a better life for themselves and their families.

"I want to bust my behind so that my children can go to college," Patricio said.

When an opportunity came along for education and hands-on training in a high-demand field at no cost and to earn a certificate in half the time, they enrolled in Monroe Community College's accelerated precision tooling certificate program and became workforce-ready in six months.

With job-placement assistance from Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, both men are now employed and thriving as CNC operators, their future bright and full of possibilities. It's a transformational moment in their lives that has made the promise of economic mobility a reality for their families.

In Rochester, N.Y., unemployment rates in some city neighborhoods exceed 30% and childhood poverty rates top national lists. As thousands of residents languish in poverty, across our region thousands of middle-skill jobs go unfilled because of a shortage of qualified workers.

In hopes of eradicating poverty, local leaders-from industry, education, labor, community-based organizations and local government-are working collectively on building bridges to opportunity that put people on the path to a family-sustaining wage and stable, rewarding careers.

Several major initiatives are in the works.

  • Rochester is the site selected for a multimillion-dollar photonics research institute being established as part of a federal plan to support the manufacturing sector. The institute will partner with local higher education and bring thousands of jobs to the Greater Rochester region, creating opportunities for more individuals to move up and out of poverty.
  • As the primary trainer of the local workforce, MCC plays a vital role in the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, a groundbreaking program that has brought together state, county, city and community resources to achieve two goals: reduce poverty by 50%in 15 years and increase the number of families that are self-sufficient.
  • MCC is also an integral partner in the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, a locally driven effort convened by Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of a broader strategic plan aimed at accelerating job creation and economic activity across the state. The council's latest proposals in competition for state funding include an optics manufacturing expansion.

By putting workforce development at the heart of these initiatives, we hope to finally close the skills gap and help people in poverty today secure good-paying jobs tomorrow. To this end, solutions to these challenges must go deeper than offering new training programs.

Rather, we must work together with local employers and community partners to provide a comprehensive community support net and create paths-in terms of access to affordable, quality education and academic support-for individuals and families to gain employment.


Some families in Rochester's distressed neighborhoods may not know about the educational opportunities available to them, and those who are aware may face obstacles that prevent them from gaining access.

Whether it's owning a car or paying bus fares, transportation is a significant cost to families that are already struggling to make ends meet. Similarly, the cost of child care may prevent a single parent from pursuing a college education. And individuals who are holding down jobs while going to college might not have enough time to get from work to class.

To remove these barriers, MCC offers training programs in city neighborhoods. We have partnered with community groups such as the Ibero-American Action League, a dual-language human services agency that serves Hispanic residents, to offer educational opportunities right in the communities that would benefit from them most.

To help with child care, we partner with community providers to provide services and have secured state grants to offset costs for students.


MCC has one of the lowest tuition rate among community colleges in Upstate New York. We strive to be the most affordable, highest quality option for students in our region.

Community colleges cannot let the cost of education become a barrier to opportunity.

In addition to doing everything we can to keep tuition low, we work aggressively to ensure more members of our community complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to gain access to financial aid.

In just one year, after partnering with the Rochester College Access Network, the number of local urban students completing the FAFSA increased by 9%.

We have also partnered with our college foundation to increase the number and amount of scholarships. This year, the MCC Foundation transferred over $1 million in scholarship funds, many created by local businesses to support their future workforce.


Many people who might benefit from job training lack the skills to excel in typical programs. Students cannot succeed in a precision machining program if they have deficits in their ability to read or perform basic math.

This is a major challenge we've discovered in reaching out to distressed neighborhoods, and it became the inspiration behind our efforts to create a bridge program that ensures individuals are academically prepared for the coursework prior to their enrollment in one of MCC's accelerated certificate programs. The bridge program is supported through a $320,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase as part of its New Skills at Work initiative.

Launched in January 2016, the 10-week middle-skills bridge program provides students with an accelerated developmental education experience. Reading, writing and math are taught within neighborhood centers like the Veterans Outreach Center. Upon completion of the bridge program, students begin their accelerated training, which will enable them to earn a certificate in half the time and promptly gain employment.

Essentially, this program will move people from where they are now to a good-paying career that will lift them out of poverty, in as little time as possible. To be truly effective in alleviating poverty, our programs need to move people along this bridge quickly, so they can begin their career and start making wages to support their family.

We can't eliminate every barrier that students will face on their pathways to career and personal success, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. When a strong bridge is constructed in the right location, it can help pave the way for many more people to climb from poverty to good-paying jobs in a growing field.

President's Message

RTMA / RIT Saunders College of Business Innovation Program

The RTMA continues to develop and implement programs, to help its members be more competitive in the marketplace. Last year, we partnered with RIT Saunders College of Business, to deliver a program on "Innovation". Due to the positive feedback we received from the participating companies, we are offering it again.

"Innovate or Die" has been a mantra in business for years. But, how does one innovate in a contract manufacturing organization? What does innovation look like and how can it be implemented in a business as small as yours?

Create a team of leaders from your company (e.g. Engineer, Accounting/finance, Marketing/Sales) and set them to work on innovating within your company.

Let RIT Executive Education walk you through innovation and how it can be applied today in your company. The culmination of this three session experience is a project definition and roadmap to tackling your innovation goal. You will have the opportunity to submit an application for assistance provided by a team of Executive MBA Students. If approved, the team of Executive MBA Students will work on your innovation project for five months. This is an amazing opportunity to have a team of consultants working to help you shape the future of your business.

Expected Schedule

First class: Monday March 14th 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Topic: The Nature of Innovation and Types of Innovation

Readings: "The 12 Different Ways for Companies to Innovate" MIT Sloan Management Review, SMR-207

Break-out session: Provide examples of different innovations possible in your industry. Share thoughts with rest of class.

Second class: Monday March 28th 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Topic: Executing an Innovation Process.

Readings: 3 cases related to Whirlpool. Participants will go through the innovation challenge at Whirlpool and the innovation process executed by Strategos, a consultancy headed by Gary Hamel. The process teaches organizations and people how to think outside the bounds of typical linear thinking common in business.

Break-out session: Participants from each company meet together to start executing the Strategos Process. RIT Faculty will go from team to team to coach each company team on the process.

Homework assignment: Each team will, following this second class, go back to its office and complete the Strategos Process, identifying one or two innovation projects that they want to work on.

Third class: Monday April 11th 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Topic: Review of Company Innovation Projects and Completion of Capstone Application

Activity: Each company team will present their innovation project to the faculty, following the Strategos Process. Based on the presentation, each team will prepare an application for assistance, to be submitted to Executive MBA Students, for consideration as a consulting project.

For further information on this program, please contact RTMA Executive Director, Kevin Kelley, he can be reached at Phone (585) 292-3761 or Email

Associate Highlight

Lutz & Associates
Lutz & Associates

Lutz & Associates

Lutz & Associates is pleased to be an associate member of the RTMA and help advance its role in in providing upstate New York with vital business development, management information and customer services. For nearly 20 years, Lutz & Associates has served more than 400 families and business owners in the area of building and protecting wealth. Over time, we have found that a team approach can be an effective method to help clients who have a wide variety of needs as they maneuver through a complex financial-services world.

No one strategy fits everyone, which is why every client gets our undivided attention-from planning to execution to follow-up. We take a proactive approach to helping you develop a strategy to address your financial goals and objectives, using the most efficient methods available.

Recognizing that everyone encounters challenges along the way, we strive to anticipate and address those situations as they occur. We want to keep you on track toward a meaningful and purpose-driven financial future. For a full list of our service offerings please visit

Carl A. Lutz
Lutz & Associates
1163 Pittsford Victor Road, Suite 100
Pittsford, NY 14534
Call: 585-264-1111