Close-Proximity Partnerships and The Relationships They Breed

How one association is taking advantage of a new relationship with a local community college.

What would you give for free office space?

For the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut, the answer was access to its members’ expertise in the manufacturing industry and possible employment opportunities.

“This means everything to our members. The average manufacturing worker is 57 years old, so our members are looking for younger people with the proper training and skills.”

Last week, western Connecticut newspaper Republican-American reported that the association, which represents more than 130 small manufacturing businesses, signed a one-year, rent-free lease agreement with Naugatuck Valley Community College for an office in the same building as NVCC’s new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.

In exchange for the free space, NVCC students will have direct exposure to SMA members with the possibility to job shadow and intern with them.

The deal brings more than just free office digs for SMA, though. It’s also gaining access to a potential labor pool. In the Republican-American article, SMA Executive Director Cyndi Zoldy called the close proximity to the center an important step because of the ability to match the needs of members with a newly skilled workforce, which will ultimately be in the market for full-time manufacturing jobs.

“This means everything to our members,” Zoldy said of the new office space. “The average manufacturing worker is 57 years old, so our members are looking for younger people with the proper training and skills.”

It’s certainly not the first instance of associations partnering with colleges and universities.  Other associations like the American Dental Education Association have collaborated with colleges and universities to help train and recruit new talent through specialized education programs. But the SMA-NVCC partnership is somewhat different in that the association is located literally on top of—two floors above—a brand new training center.

This kind of co-location and its benefits is seemingly similar to the benefits of co-working spaces, “which are becoming breeding grounds for new connections and new ideas,” as Joe Rominiecki pointed out recently in Associations Now.

As the Republican-American mentions, SMA members will be able to share their industry expertise with novice students, but by being so close to a training facility, the association may be able to capitalize on greater access to training in developing industry trends for its members—an added benefit to membership.

How have you partnered with an institution or organization to benefit your members?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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