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After a career in manufacturing, Bob Werner was looking for a way to share his skills and help his new hometown, His work on the Clinton Manufacturing Coalition fulfilled both goals. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Bob Werner has only lived in Clinton for three years, but that hasn’t stopped him from pitching in. Bob is a key member of the Clinton Manufacturing Coalition (CMC), a group formed to help out with the various manufacturing businesses in town.
“Economic development” is a buzz phrase around Clinton that’s often brought up in conjuncture with efforts to spur progress in the town forward. Bob says that the CMC helps protect economic development in Clinton by helping support the businesses that are already in town.
“This effort started in 2018. I was looking for something I could do with my skillset,” says Bob.
What Bob found out was that most people in town didn’t know there was any manufacturing companies in Clinton, let alone several. It also appeared that town leaders had not reached out to the companies.
“They all said, ‘Bob, the town does not know we exist.’ They all had the same message,” explains Bob.
The fact that all of the companies had the same observations of feeling left out led Bob to help organize a CMC meeting in late 2018 with members from the various companies, members of the town’s Economic Development Commission (EDC), and local politicians to get everyone on the same page.
“It’s turned out to be one of the most significant measures we’ve taken,” says Bob.
Since that initial meeting, Bob says the coalition has began to develop long term strategies that the town and each company can work on together.
“I want to keep these companies here in Clinton. They employ over 300 employees,” he says.
As part of that goal, CMC has set up meeting with representatives from the state government and worked to manage relationships between the companies and workforce alliance groups. Throughout this process, Bob says there has been an increase in cooperation between the different companies.
“They didn’t even know about each other in town, and now they’re starting to help each other out with best practices,” Bob proudly notes.
As an example of a long-term goal on which he wants to work, “Our primary goal for this year is to advance STEM education in the schools this year,” says Bob.
One common issue the CMC discovered amongst the companies is that there is a lack of qualified skilled workers available, which Bob says is an issue affecting the entire country, not just Clinton. Bob says that the CMC is interested in working with the school system in Clinton to develop a curriculum that may appeal to kids who don’t want to go to college after high school.
“It affects the entire community; I see it as a huge stepping stone for Clinton. For me that’s the most exciting thing this year,” says Bob.
A presentation from a company associated with the CMC will be made at The Morgan School’s career day in March.
Before he retired, Bob worked as a consultant for 33 years.
“I loved it, I’ve been in manufacturing all of my life,” Bob says.
Bob sees a correlation between his work with the CMC and with his past work. Particularly Bob says when he was working, he was talked with implementing processes that delivered the best result that could be applied to a wide variety of clients, and that’s what he’s working to do on the CMC.
Bob notes that though the companies themselves manufacture a diverse menu of products, there are similar practices that can be applied to help each specific company.
“It’s been a very gratifying year so far,” says Bob.
Bob lived and worked for many years in Manchester, but when it came time to retire, the family chose to move Clinton. Bob’s wife, Dianne Sorrentino, had a history in Clinton that spurred them to move to town.
“It’s a funky, neat little town with great people. We have great neighbors that have welcomed us and we can walk to the water or the train station to travel,” Bob says of his new hometown. “I see a lot of potential here as well, there’s more activity in all directions. I can see there’s a lot going on.”
While past hobbies included things like skydiving and water rafting, Bob chuckles and says those are in the past now.
“I’ve moved on to tamer things, I do yardwork and house work. We like to hike and kayak now, and working with the CMC, too.”
Bob is an official member of the EDC, but joining a municipal board is something Bob didn’t initially see coming.
“Politics is not my gig, but I’ve fallen in love with it. This is a first for me,” Bob says.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!