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About Dream It Do It

The Workforce Challenge/Opportunity

Manufacturing is the third largest industry sector in the Western New York region. The three-county region of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua served by Dream It Do It Western New York (DIDIWNY) employing over 18,000 people and generates $7.5 billion in manufacturing shipments.  Manufacturing the three-county region accounts for 15% of the total workforce which is well beyond the 8% national average. Over the next 10 years, industry estimates indicate that, due to retirements and growth , there will be a substantial shortage of qualified employees to fill this gap. Without a concerted effort through a private, public and education partnership to address the manufacturing workforce demand, the Western New York economy will be devastated, leaving manufacturers unable to produce, grow, and meet the challenges of competing in our global economy.

Manufacturing is a significant component of the Western New York economy.  There are 330 manufacturers in the three-county region.

The six priority skilled job categories are welding, machining, electro-mechanical technician, mechanics, quality assurance inspecting, and electrical and production operations. The average salary in these roles is $42,035, which is 9% above the average $38,600 salary in the region. 

An up-turn in the economy, compounded by the re-shoring of manufacturing has helped the sector rebound and gain strength in Western New York.  A reinvigorated manufacturing sector will require a skilled workforce to continue this growth pattern. Dream It Do It Western New York (DIDIWNY) is addressing the workforce needs of manufacturers through the coordination of stakeholders and resources.


Throughput: Reaching Students & Educators

Since its inception in 2009 Dream It Do It Western New York has reached 10’s of thousands of students in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties through a variety of programs including hands-on technology experiences, technology competitions, tours of manufacturing facilities and manufacturing technology based presentations. Teachers, counselors and school administrators through the work of DIDI have participated in teacher work experiences in manufacturing and professional develop with a focus on STEM.

Student Interactions: 51,338

Teacher Educator Participation: 1,103

Manufacturers Actively Engaged: 70

School Districts Actively Engaged: 34

Data through September 30, 2020

Outcomes: Changing Perceptions & Increasing the Availability of Workers

Changing Perceptions

While the common perception of young people and the community in general is that manufacturing is dirty, dark and dangerous, Dream It Do It in our region is changing that view of manufacturing.

Each program implemented by Dream It Do It surveys its participants to understand how the interaction influenced the perceptions of those participating.

didi survey charts
Typical before and after survey outcome from DIDI programming.
tech tour at Napoleon Engineering in Olean
Technology Tour at Napoleon Engineering, Olean.

Dream It Do It WNY Mission and Vision

Dream It Do It Western New York is proactively responding to the workforce challenges faced by manufacturers.  Our mission is to increase the skilled workforce pipeline entering manufacturing careers.

The Dream It Do It manufacturing career initiative is a program of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier, with a vision to provide local manufacturers with a labor force that has the skill and training levels required to meet their demands.

We Align Resources: Bringing together key stakeholders within a system that is result driven as well as sustainable, and meets the needs of the employer.
We Identify Program Development Needs: Through primary, secondary and technical schools we identify and advise the development of necessary training and education opportunities that help sustain manufacturing.
We Implement a Comprehensive Communication Strategy: Through paid advertising, social media and earned media opportunities the Dream It Do It Initiative spreads its message throughout the region promoting a clear understanding of high value, advanced, hi-tech manufacturing and its enormous contribution to innovation, productivity, economic growth, wealth building and high quality jobs.
We Coordinate Activities: We implement grass roots activities that include: industry tours, interactive project based programming and outreach to school systems. These functions are structured as learning activities that expose young people to the world of manufacturing.

Strategy and Tactics

The Dream It Do It Program has three primary strategies including:

Strategy 1: Educating the Educators & the Community

Educate Students, Teachers, Counselors, Administrators, Parents and Post-secondary Educators about Advanced Manufacturing, the region’s manufacturers, the opportunities that exist within these organizations and the skills and the educational requirements for careers in manufacturing.


  • Earned Media, Social Media & Paid Advertising
  • Presentations to stakeholders
  • Teacher/Counselor Professional Development
  • Installation of Dream It Do It Champions within School Districts

Strategy 2: Energizing the Talent Pipeline

Conduct events designed to energize the talent pipeline exposing students and educators to Advanced Manufacturing. 


  • Technology Tours
  • Manufacturing Academies
  • Career Exploration
  • DIDI Manufacturing Clubs
  • Technology Competitions
  • Advanced Manufacturing K-12 Class Room Experiences

Strategy 3: Providing Hands-On Manufacturing Experiences and Opportunities

Conduct programming that help students and educators see, feel and hear manufacturing.


  • Aligning students with part-time jobs, job shadowing, internship and apprenticeship opportunities
  • Hands on projects and programming with local manufacturers

History and Governance

Dream It Do It (DIDI) started as national program initiative by the Manufacturing Institute, a division of the National Association of Manufacturers. The Manufacturing Institute launched the program in 2007 following a national manufacturing workforce assessment and in response to the growing concerns of manufacturers throughout the United States who are voicing their need for workforce development. 

The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier purchased the licensing for DIDI through the Manufacturing Institute and facilitated and funded the startup of the program in Chautauqua County in 2009, which then expanded the initiative into Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in 2010. 

Dream It Do It Western New York is governed by a seven-member board of directors.

Excelco, Board Chair

Chris Lanski

Excelco, Board Chair

Anna Dibble

DRG Consulting

Dale Gier

DRG Consulting
Napoleon Engineering

Chris Napoleon

Napoleon Engineering
Empire State Development

Diego Sirianni

Empire State Development

John Stahley


Jim Stitt, Jr

DIDWNY, President

Todd Tranum

DIDWNY, President

Who is going to get this done?

Supporting and growing our manufacturing sector will be achieved through private, public and educational partnerships such as Dream It Do It. We are all in this together and you can be part of the solution. By partnering with Dream It Do It, you have the opportunity to introduce your students to excellent career opportunities in the manufacturing sector. There are educational pathways available right here in the region that can help your students access affordable, high-quality education that leads directly to career.