Manufacturers from around Southern Colorado are preparing for next week’s Southern Colorado Manufacturing Expo — a Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance South event.

The expo will take place from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 1 and from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center, 3650 N. Nevada Ave.

In its third year, this will be the first expo aligned with CAMA. (For information about CAMA, see page 23.)

“The Pikes Peak Manufacturing Partnership ran the previous two,” said Daron Linton, SOCOM event director. “This summer we officially switched to a CAMA South chapter. So we have access to a statewide trade organization for manufacturers.”

The event was started to give manufacturers in the community an opportunity to meet and spotlight the industry in the region.

While the goal remains the same, the format has changed a bit this year, said Randy Scott, co-founder of the Pikes Peak Manufacturing Partnership. Scott also helped transition the partnership to CAMA South.

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“This being our third SOCOM Expo, we have enhanced the event quite a bit to make it more impactful to our manufacturers, students and the public,” he said. “This year we have strengthened the networking and supply chain aspect of the expo.”

Scott said past events have combined both manufacturing professionals and local youths interested in the industry.

This year, the first day will be focused exclusively on business-to-business networking.

“We kick off the day with our opening speaker Bruce McDuffee, who will speak about ‘Unlocking the secret to growth with a new way to market.’ This will be followed up by the opening of our exhibit floor,” Scott said.

At 4 p.m. keynote speaker, astronaut Col. Terry Virts, will speak about leadership lessons learned in space.

“This will be followed by more networking opportunities at our evening reception,” Scott said.

Day two is called “Workforce Development Day” and will start with Bob Wendover. His presentation is entitled “Whatever! Managing the generational divide in today’s manufacturing workplace,” followed by a panel discussion focused on solving workforce challenges. The expo floor will then be opened for youths to explore and meet manufacturers. Middle and high school students can operate workstations where they can get hands-on experience in manufacturing processes.

Dave Jeffrey is president of JPM Prototype & Mfg. Inc. in Colorado Springs, a high-precision component manufacturer servicing clients in industries including medical devices and defense. Jeffrey helped organize the first two SOCOMs and heads CAMA South’s workforce committee. He said the workforce development component of the expo is particularly important.

“We’ve had the opportunity to get some kids excited who are in high school and middle school,” Jeffrey said. “We show them how we do things and explain that manufacturing is not about grandpa’s old dirty shop. It’s high tech.”

Jeffrey’s operation includes about two dozen Computer Numerical Controlled machines, but said his growth is dependent on finding qualified workers.

“It’s a computer-driven industry, and that gets some kids excited about manufacturing,” he said, adding his company has hired an employee and an intern from the expo. “For us, it’s been a real positive thing.”

Encounters between students and manufacturers at the expo can help them identify potential future employees, he said.

“We also make great connections with other businesses in the community,” Jeffrey added.

While industry involvement at the event has remained about the same the last two expos, Linton said it is “growing in quality.

“The sophistication in the room — everyone is a beneficial player in the industry,” she said.

For more information about SOCOM, visit coloradomanufacturing.org/event/socom-expo-day-1.