In 2002, during a Kent Chamber of Commerce sponsored Economic Summit; government, education, and business leaders in the Kent Valley heard the small and medium size manufacturers ask for help. These manufacturers expressed their frustration that they could not compete with off-shore competition and did not understand the changes happening in the supply chain processes within the large companies. Simply stated, they did not have a place to go to find answers or solutions.
In 2003, the Kent Chamber of Commerce and City of Kent met and discussed the importance of the manufacturing sector to the region, with nearly 35% of the Kent Valley jobs in manufacturing, providing higher wage jobs, and is the 5th largest industrial sector in the United States
In April 2006 a feasibility study was completed with input from 700 regional manufacturers who supported the establishment of a Center for Advanced Manufacturing. They agreed the new Center should be an industry driven independent organization, governed by manufacturers and focusing on five areas, which today we call our pillars.
- Access to Innovation – Identifying emerging industries, products, processes, and technologies
- Supply Chain Development – Supply Chain Mapping, certifications, and a capabilities database
- Pre-qualified Service Providers – Experts in the support system services
- Workforce Development – On-going needs assessment, partnership with industry, education, and government resources and needs
- Access Funding Resources – Work as an industry cluster to secure grant funding to address industry common opportunities and challenges
CAMPS was officially launched in January 2008. Little did we know that the Great Recession began in December 2007. During the first year 40 companies and organizations joined our efforts and CAMPS served a much needed venue for these “Charter Members” to find value in coming together to share concerns, knowledge, and support each other. This was really the emergence of a “new normal” of finding value by having Small and Medium Manufacturing leaders meet, partner, and support the manufacturing community.
Today as we approach 2016, CAMPS has grown membership of nearly 180 companies, organizations, education, and government partners supporting the region’s most innovative, high performing, and collaborating companies. These companies are focusing collectively on:
- Serving domestic and international markets
- CAMPS, as an organization, has taken a leadership role in 21st Century Workforce solutions
- CEO’s and other leaders have adopted a primary goal of improving the image of Manufacturing to all sectors of the community, with a special focus on youth programs and transitioning military personnel