By Greg Murphy 
Mike Hewitt works in the Quinte Manufacturing Resource Centre.  It’s part of the Quinte Economic Development Commission , an organization that caters, in part, to the needs of the local manufacturing industry.
His office specifically deals with business retention. That means he works to support local manufacturers by facilitating their needs to ensure they stay in the area and continue to contribute to the local economy.
QNetNews spoke with Hewitt as part of our municipal election project. We’re hoping Hewitt will be the first of many members of the Belleville manufacturing community that we’ll be speaking with, to find out what issues that matter to them.
The QEDC conducted a survey in 2013 of 54 manufacturers that shows a list of external forces that are affecting the industry province wide, and locally. In terms of issues (or external forces), Hewitt said there are a number of them that the manufacturers themselves can do little about – like energy costs and the value of the Canadian dollar.
Hewitt said the manufacturing industry is the third largest employer in eastern Ontario, Belleville included. He says though there are roadblocks facing the industry, there is still expected employment growth over the next five years. And finding the workers with the right skills will be key.
The QNet team will be speaking with more local manufacturers to find out what issues they care about most.