Polaris MEP Adds Specialists to Meet Rhode Island Manufacturing Workforce Challenges

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by | Sep 7, 2021

Providence, RI – September 7, 2021 – As more Rhode Island manufacturers report struggles to find and recruit workers, Polaris MEP is staffing up to help them meet the challenge. Aarin B. Clemons joins the team as Workforce Coordinator while Andrea (Annie) Unger steps into the newly-created role of Workforce Project Manager.

Polaris MEP, an affiliate of the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership, provides competitive business improvement programs to Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. While the two new Polaris MEP staffers come from different industries – Clemons from Hospitality and Unger from Higher Education – they share a passion for connecting people to gainful and meaningful employment.

“Workforce is a critical issue for Rhode Island’s manufacturing community,” said Polaris MEP Center Director Kathie Mahoney. “Adding Aarin Clemons and Annie Unger to the Polaris MEP team gives us greater depth and breadth to help smaller manufacturers with recruiting and retention.”

Aarin Clemons, Workforce Coordinator

Aarin Clemons, Polaris MEP RI manufacturing Workforce Coordinator Clemons most recently served as General Manager and Brand + Culture Director for The Dean Hotel. Recognized by the Rhode Island Hospitality & Tourism Association in 2017 as the Emerging Leader of the Year, he brings operational skills proven in both in-house and public-facing initiatives. The United Way named him a “Champion of Adult Learning” in 2019 in honor of the adult learning programming he created for The Dean Hotel. Clemons holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University.

As Workforce Coordinator, Clemons will help create and manage employer-driven manufacturing workforce programs such as the Fast Track to Advanced Manufacturing (a CNC training program) and Machine & Marine (hiring / onboarding / on-the-job training grants).

Annie Unger

Annie Unger, Polaris MEP manufacturing Workforce Project ManagerAs an Assistant Professor for the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), Unger had previously partnered with Polaris MEP’s “Phoenix Partnership.” (This employer-driven program upskills workers to meet workplace demands.)

Among Unger’s achievements as a NEIT faculty member was designing workforce training curriculum including a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification. The Providence Business News recognized her with a Manufacturing Award in 2017 for collaboration with industry. Unger earned her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, an Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology from NEIT and has a Master of Arts in Mathematics Teaching from Providence College.

In her new role as Polaris MEP Workforce Project Manager, Unger will create and implement incumbent workforce training programs, including customized solutions and open-enrollment courses.

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About Polaris MEP

Polaris MEP provides competitive business improvement programs to grow Rhode Island’s manufacturing industry. Polaris MEP is a statewide nonprofit organization. An affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the consultancy is a business unit of the URI Research Foundation. www.PolarisMEP.org

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For interview requests/additional details, contact: Erin Read; 401-270-8896 x406; [email protected].

High-res images available on request.