In the first U.S. MI-related in-person event in nine months, New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Oct. 23 announced the Empire State Development Corp. earmarked $341,000 to D’Addario & Co. In addition to manufacturing music accessories, D’Addario has taken on the role of manufacturing much-needed face shields during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nearly $5 million is being allocated across eight businesses throughout the state of New York to continue investing in manufacturing in our state,” said Hochul. “So never again is the Empire State caught in a situation where we found ourselves just a few months ago. We could not get our hands on life-saving equipment like facemasks, face shields, gowns, ventilators, testing kits, swabs and reagents. We had to scour the world. We went to China, competing with other states and countries to get our hands on these life-saving personal protective equipment. No longer. We are investing in our own manufacturing.”

Hochul added the reason she was at D’Addario headquarters in Farmingdale, N.Y. was not to see guitar strings manufactured, although it is a “fascinating process” she has seen before. “We are here to award this company $341,000 to get new equipment, raw materials, R&D (research and development) and working capital so they can create 1.2 million desperately needed face shields,” stated Hochul. “You’d think this pandemic has taught us many lessons. One is the definition of what an essential worker is. Ladies and gentleman, the people behind me at this company are essential workers. … They are building our reserves so they can get it out to local governments and other states. And they are doing everything they can to protect their residents and employees.”

Hochul stressed that we are not out of the woods yet regarding the coronavirus. “We are at halftime of what could be a long football game,” she said. “The problem is, we are now approaching our most vulnerable time. People are going indoors. Outdoor dining will not be an option as the weather changes. … We are in a long winter. But our administration is investing and preparing. We will not be caught off guard. We will be ready for this. I want to make sure we are ready and do everything we can to keep the economy open and not shut down any businesses and see peoples’ dreams go down the drain because we are in the throes of a global pandemic.”

Regarding D’Addario, Hochul said it is the “continuation of a beautiful success story. This company is stepping up and responding to a need when it was so dire. We asked how people can help. [D’Addario] said they will.”

“This amazing company really is a center of innovation,” added Suffolk County (N.Y.) Executive Steve Bellone. “This company is the model for the country in how you bring manufacturing jobs back [to Long Island]; how you make manufacturing work. … If there is one word to describe this company, it is innovation. They are every day figuring out how to make things more efficient. That’s why they are expanding even further …. When we were going through the [worst of] the pandemic, this company was thinking ahead about how to reopen safely and successfully. They put out a plan. That plan really was a model for so many others.”

Although any lieutenant governor has a lot on their plates right now, Hochul told the Music & Sound Retailer it was important to appear at D’Addario in person to not only announce the grant, but to thank the company for its hard work manufacturing PPE. “Never again do we want to be held captive to the international supply chain where we are literally competing with other states and countries,” she said. “Our decision to make sure that manufacturing happens here and help businesses like this retool to help us create that inventory was really important for me to be here in person.”

“Three months into the job, [CEO John D’Addario III] was faced with one of the most difficult challenges I have ever seen in my career,” said Jim D’Addario, D’Addario’s chairman and chief innovation officer. “Our team at D’Addario, with the help from all our municipalities, has done an outstanding job of protecting our people and our business so we will succeed. … We can never forget that [New York was] the hot spot on the whole planet. And now, we are looking like the best state in the United States.”

D’Addario really excels at manufacturing and gets better every year, added Jim D’Addario. “In March, when New York manufacturers were asked to step up and make PPE [personal protective equipment] we talked as a family. We met every Sunday on a Zoom call as a family and talked about what to do as a business. That included everyone from the next generation and my generation and decided we need to [make PPE]. In five weeks, we were in production. We have made close to 2 million face shields already.”


The Retailer also asked Hochul about music education, which is perhaps more important today than ever. “Music education is really important,” she answered. “We talk about STEM education. It has been transitioned into STEAM education to include the arts, music, culture and other ways we can trigger the inspiration that young people need to be creative contributors to society. Music plays that role. It lifts people’s spirits during a time of crisis. It is an outlet for emotions when times are tough. So, I think now more than ever, the music industry and creative artists have a role to play in helping our country heal. We’ve been through a lot together.”

Hochul first became aware of great music in the late 1960s. “I was a fan of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton,” she said. “In the ‘80s, I followed Prince. I would get up in the morning and listen to ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ to get the blood flowing. But I also know music became an outlet for anxiety about the Vietnam War and civil unrest. People listened to the lyrics of Bob Dylan and believed they were part of a larger movement. That is exactly what America needs right now; for our artists to step up and capture the essence of the collective pain and try to find a positive way forward for people who listen.”

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