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Manufacturing Renewal in New York City Is Focus of April 12 Forum

By Suzanne Trimel

CEO's from the garment industry and manufacturers, including Brooks Brothers, Springs Industries, New Balance and Nicole Miller, will join labor leaders, academics and public sector representatives for discussions at Columbia on Friday, April 12, on the prospects of reviving clothing manufacturing in the United States and New York City in particular.

Jerry Chazen, former CEO and founder of Liz Claiborne, will speak during the luncheon break at 1:00 p.m. and Robert Walsh, New York City Commissioner of Business Services, will discuss economic development at 9:40 a.m.

The conference, "Shaping a Strategy for Reindustrialization: Prospects for the Fashion Industry," was organized by faculty of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and Columbia Business School and will bring together a high-level group for discussions focused on public policy and labor issues, economic development and technology related to the potential for revitalizing manufacturing in New York City.

The conference, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in Room 309, Warren Hall, 1125 Amsterdam Avenue, was initiated by Columbia Professor Seymour Melman, one of the country's leading experts on industrial production, and was organized by Nelson Fraiman of Columbia Business School.

Participants will include Bud Konheim, CEO of Nicole Miller; Joe Dixon, Executive Vice President, Brooks Brothers; Burt Steinberg, Executive Director, Dress Barn; Bruce Pernick, CEO, Monarch; Tom O'Connor, Executive Vice President, Springs Industries; Stewart Little, Senior Vice President, Unifi; Fred Rosen, CEO, Gerber Technology, Deirdre Quinn, Senior Vice President, Lafayette 148, and Bob Zane, Senior Vice President, Liz Claiborne.

Other participants will represent the Garment Development Corporation, the U.S. Department of Commerce, UNITE, a labor federation, the Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation. Elaine Stone of the Fashion Institute of Technology and Blan Godfrey, Dean of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, will also participate.

Melman, professor emeritus of industrial engineering at the engineering school, has warned for many years about the consequences of industrial decline through the export of manufacturing jobs abroad. He argues that deindustrialization is a dangerous course that leaves the country much too dependent on imports, notably for capital goods. He says this danger is particularly in evidence now with layoffs occurring in many service-dominated industries since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Melman makes the case for reindustrialization in his latest book, "After Capitalism: From Managerialism to Workplace Democracy," published last fall by Alfred A. Knopf. In this, his ninth book, Melman recounts dozens of industries that have experienced a catastrophic drop in production in the second half of the 20th century, including machine tools, whose work force was cut by more than one half from 1977 to 1996, office machines, ball and roller bearings and construction, mining and textile machinery.

Last November he brought together a group of 40 like-minded academics to begin to shape a strategy for reindustrialization, focused on a revival in light rail manufacturing in the metropolitan area. The apparel conference is a follow-up to the strategy session.

Fraiman, who joined the Columbia Business School faculty in 1995, teaches operations and technology management. He had a 17-year career with International Paper Company, where his most recent position was chief technology officer for eight manufacturing divisions. Before this he developed and managed a group responsible for productivity improvement and process innovation, and still earlier he directed company-wide educational activities.

He specializes in the retail and process industries and his research is in operations strategy and improvement.

Published: Apr 12, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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