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When Newark Mayor Cory Booker and a host of economic development officials gathered at Rutgers Business School recently to recognize Zago Manufacturing, the company's birthday was only part of the reason for the event.

After two decades in the city, the owners of the fastner-making company, which got its start in a business incubator at New Jersey Institute of Technology, made another huge investment in their business and in Newark when they installed a 50-kilowatt solar facility at their factory.

"This is a cavalcade of wins," Booker said, "evidenced in one extraordinary company."

The celebration came a month after Brookings Institution released a report highlighting Newark's manufacturing sector, a hub of nearly 400 small- and mid-sized companies like Zago that collectively, employ 12,000 people and make everything from uniforms and paint brushes to cowboy hats and screws.

The Brookings report sets out a number of goals intended to help Newark capture the potential of its manufacturing hub, focusing on things such as adopting green business practices and advocating domestic sourcing.

With the construction of its solar facility, Zago Manufacturing immediately became a poster child for the promise described in the report, which was completed as part of a partnership between Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and the Newark Manufacturing Initiative.

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