John R. Mullin, Chair - Henry C. Renski, Member
Industry has thrived in the Connecticut River Valley since the middle of the seventeenth century. The Valley has a strong precision manufacturing history, which began in 1777 with the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. Industry is important to keep the economy of an area balanced, as it provides a solid tax base for any municipality. The Springfield Armory reinvented the gun making industry in the Connecticut River Valley and affected the way industrialization developed in the United States through the invention of the Blanchard Lathe and the development of the interchangeable pieces in manufacturing. Presently, the center of the Valley, specifically the Springfield area, is dominated by small precision manufacturing firms. The Pioneer Valley Planing Commission's Plan for Progress Report states that one of Massachusetts goals for the Connecticut River Valley is to sustain the precision manufacturing cluster in the area.
This study will attempt go make a contribution towards understanding how to sustain the cluster of precision manufacturing in the Connecticut River Valley. It will describe what precision manufacturing is, identify what a cluster is and identify what makes the conglomeration of precision manufacturing shops in the Connecticut River Valley a cluster, and help find ways the state and local governments can contribute to the growth of the cluster already in place.
Precision manufacturing is defined as the manufacture of individual pieces with extreme accuracy. This type of machining is used to make parts for various machines, including medical, aeronautical, and any other industry that requires identical parts to be created in large quantities. Precision manufacturing requires highly skilled workers to operate different machines to ultimately produce the desired piece. Precision manufacturing is still clustered in the Connecticut River Valley today, and keeping this manufacturing job base in the area is important to the economic health of the Valley and the following research will show how important this industry is to the Valley.