Danielle Johnson has been named first director of the North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment.
The center was formed in 2015 to support the growing cluster of transportation equipment and aerospace companies across the seven-county North Country region. It presently includes more than 30 companies with more than 8,100 employees.
Johnson will lead efforts to assist those firms with issues such as workforce training and recruitment, supply chain efficiency, procurement and contracting, government affairs support and sharing best practices.
“With recent funding provided by the USDA and by State Sen. Betty Little, we are pleased to be able to employ the project’s first full-time director, and we are especially pleased to be able to promote from within, tapping the proven ability and leadership of Danielle Johnson to really take NAm Trans forward.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided a $74,000 grant for the position in late July. The funds have been supplemented by $15,000 from the Workforce Development Institute and $10,000 from the chamber.
The center grew from a study commissioned by the Development Corp. to identify the region’s potential for cluster organization. It has already established partnerships with the Quebec Ground Transportation Cluster and with Aero Montreal, two similar cluster organizations in Canada.
“Clusters are a key element in 21st-century manufacturing and economic development, with companies looking to be near other companies like them in order to take advantage of shared workforce needs and supply chains, among other advantages,” Douglas said.
“Maximizing the efficiency and productivity of the cluster we have developed here over the last 20 years is the best way to retain and produce jobs through growth and to attract additional transportation equipment and aerospace companies, with more such companies definitely in the pipeline.”