Debut of the Rocky Mountain Manufacturing Index and why measuring success is important

By Bart Taylor | Oct 21, 2014

As a modern manufacturing economy takes shape, a rush is on to identify who’s part of the community and how growth and progress should be measured.

Our lens, our perspective, is the regional, multi-industry manufacturing economy we report on every week. Today we’re providing one tool to track it’s progress. With the help of Deloitte we’re compiling an index that will track the collective stock performance of 28 regional manufacturing companies. It’s a localized if unique version of a what others are doing nationally, like IndustryWeek.

The Rocky Mountain Manufacturing Index views manufacturing through the particular lens we prefer – broad-based and big-shouldered – with 10 or so industry categories included. Manufacturing here isn’t a single-industry sector.

The Index is one part of our sustained effort over the next several months to build tools to follow the development of the new manufacturing economy.

Here’s this week’s Index.

The effort to catalogue the companies and people of manufacturing is ongoing and industry-wide, and for good reason. Today’s manufacturing economy is different than the past, comprised of new sectors, companies and people. Despite efforts to ‘map’ the sector the past several years, efforts are just now gaining traction.

The reality is that building a useful and easy-to-use directory is hard. Not everyone agrees who should be included, and manufacturers must participate to make it more than just a phone book of name and addresses. (That’s hard, too.) To build a truly interactive resource, companies must give up data and use it to actively seek connections. Proving the value of that is difficult, so participation tends to lag.

Several are trying. Manufacturer’s Edge, Colorado’s state affiliate of the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is leading a statewide effort to define and connect the market, with an initial focus on southern Colorado.

Another high-profile effort is set to launch as a result of Colorado’s $6.6 million SMART award. SMART is short for Strengthening Manufacturing by Accelerating Research and Technology. We’re told funds have been earmarked for the development of a “project map,” a directory of companies involved in advanced manufacturing who might benefit from participation in the infrastructure and programs contemplated by SMART. CAMA, the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance and the facilitator of SMART, will lead the effort.

Connecting industry players for mutual benefit is an essential step in advancing the entire manufacturing sector. As connections drive the market forward, we’ll use the Rocky Mountain manufacturing index and other tools to track it.