By Starrla Cray
McLEOD, CARVER, WRIGHT COUNTIES, MN Manufacturing is vital to Minnesota’s economy, and the same is true in Wright, McLeod, and Carver counties.
Wright County’s 202 manufacturing companies, for example, employed 4,320 people and generated more than $210 million in total wages last year, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
McLeod County, although it has fewer manufacturing establishments (78), employed an even higher number 5,059 people and was responsible for more than $268 million in annual wages.
To the east, Carver County generated more than $522 million in wages for its 8,480 manufacturing jobs in 160 businesses.
By 2020, employment in Minnesota’s manufacturing sector is projected to rise 4.9 percent, from 292,082 jobs in 2010 to 306,280.
The state will celebrate the importance of manufacturing during Minnesota Manufacturers week, Oct. 21-27. Anytime throughout the week, companies are encouraged to host a free plant tour.
According to the Statewide Tour of Manufacturing website, the concept is modeled after the Tour of Homes.
The first statewide tour took place in 2011. It has been expanded to an entire week this year to make participation easier for more manufacturing companies. Any manufacturer in any region of Minnesota is encouraged to have its facility open to the public for a few hours this week. Some tours are led by a guide, while others are self-guided.
According to DEED:
• One in seven Minnesota jobs is in manufacturing.
• The average worker in the manufacturing sector makes $56,328 per year.
• Across the state, manufacturing accounts for between 8 and 34 percent of total employment, depending on the region.
• Each manufacturing job supports another 1.9 jobs elsewhere in the economy through supplier purchases and employee spending.
• Manufacturing exports brought $18.4 billion into the Minnesota economy in 2011.
• Minnesota’s top manufactured export is computers and electronics, at almost $4 billion, followed by machinery, transportation equipment, and miscellaneous (mostly medical devices).
The changing face of manufacturing
According to a KARE 11 article, manufacturing companies are seeking skilled workers who work well in teams, show up on time each day, and communicate effectively.
Instead of being a labor-intensive field, manufacturing is becoming increasingly high-tech and computerized.
Traditionally, manufacturing has been considered a male career path, but that is changing. CNN Money reported that about one-third of all manufacturing workers today are women.
In addition to finding qualified workers, a ThomasNet News article stated that reducing tax and regulation burdens would also enhance manufacturing in America. The article recommended reviewing and simplifying corporate tax codes, permitting, and regulatory processes.
Tour at RiteWay
Want to see a local manufacturing company in action?
RiteWay Manufacturing in Lester Prairie is offering free public tours Saturday, Oct. 27 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Located at 2364 Highway 7, RiteWay has a 120,000-square-foot facility offering fabrication, machining, engineering, finishing, welding, assembly, and laser engraving.
To learn more, call (320) 395-0142.
Throughout Minnesota Manufacturing Week, several companies throughout the state are offering tours. Below are two nearby locations.
1400 Mill Lane
Waconia, MN 55387
Open Saturday, Oct. 27
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Milltronics Manufacturing Company Inc. is a leading manufacturer of CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines and controls that advance productivity in precision machining worldwide.
2 Century Ave. SE
Hutchinson, MN 55350
Open Tuesday, Oct. 23
6 to 8 p.m.
Ridgewater College has manufacturing training that includes the nation’s largest non-destructive testing technician program and an online computer-aided drafting program. The public is encouraged to tour these programs as well as the automation and robotics, machine tool, and welding programs.