Friday is, "National Manufacturing Day" to shine the spotlight on the contributions and challenges of manufacturers. Here in New Jersey, the manufacturing industry is alive and well.

Rob Stramara, chief operating officer of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, a nonprofit that serves as a guiding light for Jersey companies large and small, says manufacturers here are challenged by the business climate, by the need for skilled labor and keeping up with technology.

"The challenges are really mainly business challenges," he said. The challenges also include allowing manufacturing businesses to reinvest in their companies to spur growth.

He says some of the issues facing manufacturers are financial, such as taxes and funding problems. Others are environmental issues. Stramara says they chip away at the bottom line, and make the challenge of growth through reinvesting in the company difficult.

According to Stramara, one of the most frustrating things they hear is the claim that New Jersey manufacturing is dead. He says it is not.

"There are 15,000 companies in the state of New Jersey that are manufacturers or companies that support manufacturing in some way."

Manufacturing in New Jersey includes chemicals and pharmaceuticals and food manufacturing, providing jobs for more than 300,000 people.

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program will mark Manufacturing Day at the Palace in the Somerset section of Franklin, in an event that will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., including awards and workshops. They expect about 500 people to attend.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at