The Haverhill City Council received a vision of the future of manufacturing in Haverhill during a presentation by the body’s vice president Tuesday night.
Council Vice President John A. Michitson outlined a plan to develop a “Regional Smart Manufacturing Hub” at the site of a proposed business park to be located at the old Dutton Airport, off Amesbury Road. He explained smart manufacturing as an integration of digital and traditional manufacturing allowing companies to eliminate time consuming and costly production costs.
“Data is collected and then the computer analyzes all that data, looks for patterns and, then, with artificial intelligence and machine learning, they can then make changes before they even produce the part,” he explained.
Michitson, who along with state Rep. Andy X. Vargas, co-chair an 18-member committee advancing the project, said the development of such a hub has great appeal to at least three major industries.
“We’re focused on three big industries for the future of Massachusetts—advanced manufacturing, climate technology and bio-tech and pharma and they all have the same needs. They’re all trying to figure out a way to go from the traditional way of manufacturing to a new way,” he said.
Michitson said such a hub would also be attractive to green industries looking to diminish their carbon footprints. He also pointed out that with the recent $1 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—or STEM—grant from the state, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical and Haverhill High Schools would provide an excellent advanced manufacturing workforce feeder system for these industries.
Michitson said the concept is still in the early stages, which entails talking about the project with government leaders, industry representatives and academia as well as looking for avenues of funding. He said eventually the committee will narrow the scope the project focusing on those companies that show the most receptivity.
Michitson noted high-profile efforts during the 1960s to bring NASA’s Electronic Center and the Atomic Energy Commission’s Linear Accelerator to Haverhill helped put the city on the map and led to the development of the Ward Hill Industrial Park.
Other members of the steering committee are Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr.; Ken Cavallaro, Greater Haverhill Foundation; John Harthorne, founder and managing director, Two Lanterns Venture Partners; Neal Orringer, CEO, Astro America, leading President Biden’s Additive Manufacturing Forward Initiative; John Roth, professor, director of John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, University of New Hampshire; Tom O’Donnell, senior director, innovation initiatives, UMass Lowell; Allison Dolan-Wilson, vice president of Institutional Advancement, Northern Essex Community College; Laura Teicher, executive director, FORGE advanced manufacturing startup accelerator; Mike Trotta, CEO, Crystal Engineering; Rich Breault, CEO, Lightspeed Manufacturing; Seth Cordes, president, Uncommon Catalyst; Jim DiBurro, president, Roundrock Consulting; Keith Boucher, president, MakeIT Haverhill; Alexandria Eberhardt, CEO, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Linehan, Greater Haverhill Foundation; and Haverhill Assistant Economic Development Director Pam Price.