While the economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 for manufacturers is still in progress—the sector saw more than 10,000 jobs lost in the East Bay (representing over a 10 percent decline) during the pandemic— East Bay EDA provided critical support and assistance to small and mid-sized manufacturers during a crucial time during the pandemic, contributing to the present when over 8,000 of those manufacturing jobs lost have been recovered.

From July 2020 to March 2021, as part of California’s Manufacturing Network, East Bay EDA conducted outreach and provided direct assistance to 265 small and mid-sized manufacturers in Alameda County. We know that manufacturing will be a strong and resilient sector that is key to our region’s economy, and led by California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC), through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Emergency Assistance Program (NEAP) (funded by the CARES Act Stimulus Program), East Bay EDA’s outreach and assistance to these small and mid-size manufacturers helped ensure they survive, recover and thrive.

The most frequently-provided aid by far was access to capital, with East Bay EDA helping 79 percent of manufacturers with accessing capital. One key way that East Bay EDA helped with access to capital was through the Alameda County CARES Grant Program, a grant program administered by East Bay EDA that provided $5,000 in funding to support eligible, COVID-19-impacted small businesses, including local manufacturers. These funds were used to help pay for a variety of expenses, including rent/lease/mortgage, operating expenses, payroll, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), digital technologies, and business adaptations to comply with or relating to COVID-19 requirements. In addition to capital, East Bay EDA also assisted small manufacturers in accessing events/networking highlighting the growing aspects of manufacturing as an economic development opportunity, getting back to work, general business strategies and those related to sales channels, workforce strategies, and other critical resources for manufacturers.

Moving forward, the resilience and growth of the East Bay’s small and mid-sized manufacturers requires dedicated efforts from the private and public sectors. Economic development strategies that build upon our region’s existing advanced capabilities and support small to mid-sized suppliers, develop and deliver new forms of business assistance, expand the diversity of the sector including support for start-ups, and improve opportunities for middle-wage employment and a wide variety of ownership types– especially for people who have been impacted the most by COVID-19—will be key. Each strategy will be critical to growing this sector that is expected to need an additional 2.1 million jobs nationwide by 2030.

For more information, and our list of resources for small to mid-sized manufacturers, please visit: https://eastbayeda.org/manufacturing/

Photo: Maas Brothers Powder Coating