There’s no doubt about it: Manufacturing is leading our economy – nationally, statewide and in the New North.
In Northeast Wisconsin, almost 1 in 4 jobs are tied to manufacturing (nationwide, it’s 1 in 6). More importantly, the industry is doing well: When the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, an organization of 101 companies in the region, polled its manufacturing members with at least $3 million in annual revenue and 25 or more employees, 94 percent of companies reported they were either “very healthy” or “healthy” financially.
That’s according to this month’s Face Time subject, Ann Franz, strategic partnerships manager at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. In her interview with Insight on Manufacturing Editor and Insight Associate Editor Nikki Kallio (page 19), Franz talks about how manufacturers in the New North region came together six years ago to form the NEW Manufacturing Alliance. As coordinator of the organization, Franz has worked diligently to bring the region’s manufacturers together to solve common problems. At the top of their list: Finding skilled workers.
At Insight Publications, we’ve recognized how vital the industry is to Northeast Wisconsin since we planned the first issue of Insight on Manufacturing, which mailed in December 2007 – four months before the first issue of Insight. Published quarterly in its first years, “IOM” now comes out every other month. In December 2008, we produced the first annual Manufacturing All Stars magazine for the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, shining the spotlight on exemplary young employees in the industry. And on Sept. 26, Insight Publications, along with First Business Bank and the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, will present the second annual Manufacturing First Expo & Conference at the KI Center in Green Bay (see Connections, page 22).
This month’s cover story by MaryBeth Matzek takes a look at the evolution of manufacturing in our region, as observed by Paul Rauscher, president of EMT International and a founding member of the NEW Manufacturing Alliance. Rauscher was among the first in the region who called attention to the looming shortage of skilled workers. He noticed that a lot of his employees “had gray hair or were going that way,” and employers were going to have to take action to create a pipeline of trained workers in order for their businesses to keep productive.
Rauscher was also among those who knew that manufacturing was going to have to boost its image in order to appeal to young people. This revelation led to the development of the Manufacturing All Stars, which is distributed to local technical colleges and high school technical education departments region wide. It features stories about the All Stars, nominated by their companies and chosen by a panel convened by the Alliance. Also available in digital format online, it features video interviews of each winner (go to www.insightdigital.biz/issue/48699).
The Manufacturing All Stars set an example for young people (and their parents and teachers), with testimonials about what makes their jobs interesting and how they strive to continually learn, innovate and motivate their peers. This year, on the eve of the Manufacturing First Expo & Conference, the spotlight will shine on them during a new manufacturing awards reception at the KI Center.
Following the success of last year’s conference, organizers of Manufacturing First presented a check for $3,000 to support graduating high school seniors who are attending a technical college in the New North in a manufacturing-related degree program. The success of this year’s conference may lead to more such incentives for young people to pursue manufacturing as a career.
With two keynotes, a lunch presentation and all-star lineup of manufacturing executives, we expect this year’s event will draw people from all over Wisconsin. Tickets are $75. For more information, go to www.manufacturingfirst.com. We hope to see you there!