It’s a brisk Friday morning in Niagara Falls. As the hustle and bustle of the morning commute dies down, a different kind of energy is building inside the Grand Hall at Fallsview Casino Resort. Booths are setup, microphones are tested and the room buzzes with conversation as what feels like half of Niagara trickles in. Among them are businessmen and women, tradespeople, small and large business owners, government employees, university representatives and busloads of high school students. This is the Niagara Industrial Association Trade Show.
Every year, the NIA holds a massive event here to bring together the hundreds of manufacturing and skilled trades businesses in the region. Ideas are shared, demonstrations are conducted and innovation is flaunted. And of course, it is the holy grail of networking.
On top of all this, the trade show is an opportunity for high school students like Hailin to show off their school’s impressive endeavours in industrial design, robotics and engineering.
Hailin is a high school senior in St. Catharines. He’s the kind of kid who, when adults meet him, is asked, “Are you really only in high school?” He’s well-spoken, highly focused and pretty darn smart. He’s here at the NIA trade show with one of the region’s many dedicated teachers. Their students are exhibiting projects they’ve created like a submersible ROV that was used by local business Rankin Construction to enter and survey malfunctioning turbines in the Welland Canal.
But for Hailin, this isnít just another science fair. Heís here because he’s in the process of applying for post-secondary programs and wants to know as much as he can about the industry in which he could soon find himself working. Hailin hopes to begin a Bachelors of engineering next year and go on to pursue an MBA.
Hailin doesn’t have to look far to find inspiring examples of manufacturing and industrial success in Niagara. The skilled trades and manufacturing industries in the region are booming. In the region alone, the GDP of this sector is over $1.6 billion (USD) and growing. With a labour force of over 225,000, the opportunities for young people like Hailin are virtually endless.
The Niagara Industrial Association is an important advocate for this sector and is integral to its growth. It is the only organization based in the region that focuses specifically on the needs and interests of the manufacturing and industrial sector in Niagara.
They influence government policy, promote business development, build strategic partnerships and act as a resource for programs and services that support the industry.
Trade shows like this are integral to maintaining the pulse of an industry as thriving as the regionís industrial and manufacturing industry. It’s a place where business owners, investors, governments and educational institutions can pool their knowledge and get one another inspired about the work they do.
It’s also an opportunity for thought leaders, like President and CEO of GE Canada Elyse Allan, to share industry insights and to inspire a successful year ahead.
It is also crucial to the industryís continued success that students like Hailin are made aware of the amazing opportunities that exist in Niagara for those in skilled trades, engineering, business management and other related professions.
The manufacturing industry is alive and well in Niagara thanks to a number of factors. Niagara Canada’s low cost of doing business and cost-competitiveness drive businesses into the region. Once they’re here, businesses benefit from government incentives, tax rebates, funding programs and access to the Niagara Foreign Trade Zone.
What’s more, Niagara is setting itself up for a bright future in the skilled trades and manufacturing sectors by investing in quality education programs at both Niagara College and Brock University. These schools are driving young talent to Niagara and many of them are staying here upon graduation.
The Niagara Industrial Association acts as a direct link between government, private sector, public sector and academia to ensure that the wheel never stops turning.
For students like Hailin, that means a bright future ahead in Niagara.