At the sixth annual MANNY Awards on June 5, 2012 at the Sharonville Convention Center, Cincy honored the 15 best manufacturing companies in the Tristate in the following categories: Best Place to Work, New Job Creation, Biggest Breakthrough, New Product Development/Innovation and Top Growth.

Winners included Emerson Industrial Automation, Gold Medal Products Co. and Richards Industries for Best Place to Work, Emery Oleochemicals LLC, MillerCoors Brewery and Ransohoff-Cleaning Technologies Group LLC for Biggest Breakthrough, Altimet-Global Scrap Management, Brighton Tru-Edge Heads, Inc. and Metalworking Group for New Job Creation, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Makino and Meridian Bioscience, Inc. for New Product Development/Innovation, and BIC Precision Machine Co., Inc., General Data Company and Star Manufacturing for Top Growth.

Award winners were celebrated during the ceremony, which also featured a panel discussion about the past and future of manufacturing in the Tristate. Tom McKee, reporter with WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, was the event's emcee, and the event speakers included Dan Hurley, director of Leadership Cincinnati, and Pete Zelinski, a long-time editor, columnist and correspondent with Modern Machine Shop, the leading publication in North America covering industrial metalworking and CNC machining, as well as the lead editor of Additive Manufacturing.

Hurley, who has been a historical and political reporter for Local 12 News since 1981, took award winners and guests on a trip back in time, explaining how Cincinnati came to be the manufacturing hub it is today.

"When we were founded in 1778 "¦ we were in the right place; we were at the midpoint of the Ohio River, and that certainly set us up to potentially be a great transportation center. But because we were also at this entrance point to the West, we also became a great manufacturing center because it was much easier to manufacture here and then ship things," he said.

So what led Cincinnati to becoming such a manufacturing hotspot?

Hurley explains that the city did something no other city in the U.S. did "” it built a city-owned railway. Through four popular votes, citizens voted to tax themselves to build the Cincinnati southern railway, which helped boost industrialization and in turn, manufacturing.

Zelinski continued the discussion of the future of manufacturing in the Tristate by describing the issues facing the field today.

"In the last year or two, manufacturing has acquired a celebrity that continues to feel strange to me," Zelinski said. For example, he said, politicians want to be associated with manufacturing now.

However, Zelinski explained that there are several issues facing manufacturing, which include the lack of qualified manufacturing labor, despite being in a time of high unemployment, as well as additive manufacturing, which refers to the equipment that is able to print out a solid part, which offers the potential to dramatically simplify the way certain products are made.

Zelinski did add that the culture of manufacturing has changed recently and will likely continue to change. For example, he said, the culture on the production floor is very different now. It has become more efficient through things such as technology and information tools, which are more capable, precise and reliable than they were in the past.