California League of Food Processors 29 Dream It. Do It. The food processing industry isn’t alone in its ongoing challenge to find qualified workers, including those with right set of technical skills for plant operations. Sometimes part of the challenge is the availability of such training at educational institutions. Mike Betts, president of the Betts Company, which manu- factures parts for planes, trains, trucks and more, said he has been concerned for years that career and technical education was not being invested in the way it should be. So when Betts relocated his company from the Bay Area to Fresno some 10 years ago, he saw an opportunity to partner and unite with existing programs, educational partners and others in the area to form an alliance that would help improve, enhance and expand educational opportunities for manufacturing/technical training and give manufacturers a communication platform. The result was the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance. Betts, who is chair of the alliance’s board of directors, said what makes the alliance remarkable is that it’s industry led, bringing everyone to the table with a common vision with the interests of the manufacturing industry at heart. “We came together with a variety of partners to create an alliance that gives manufacturers a voice,” Betts said. “It’s a voice that they desperately need at state and federal levels.” He also wanted the alliance to “build a world class career technical and educational echo system” focusing on the next generation. The alliance is involved in a wide variety of activities, including getting people engaged on advisory boards, offering internship opportunities, providing manufacturing tours and getting into the classroom and letting students know about the many career opportunities in manufacturing, the latter being a huge focus. The alliance also provides manufacturers with tools and resources of which the industry may not be aware, such as the California Manufac- turing Network (CMTC), which Betts said provides a plethora of consultants on a variety of topics, including the availability of government assistant for manufacturers. He said many industry members aren’t aware that they can qualify for government funding for employee training and also eligible for research and development tax credits. Annual Manufacturing Summit The alliance also began holding an Annual Manufacturing Summit three years ago, with attendance and participation steadily growing each year. Attendance reached 1,000 for the first time at the 2017 summit held in May in Fresno. Betts said the event is a “celebration of manufacturing” and features a trade show and breakout sessions that allow manufacturers to get connected and involved. Working with Ag and Food The alliance is inclusive of all industries, including food and agriculture. The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance By LISA JAGER – CLFP Marketing & Communications Director Three years ago the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance begin holding an Annual Manufactur-ing Summit. Dream It. (continued on page 36)