3 Manufacturing Presidents Advocate for Key Job Creating Program at Minnesota Legislature
Three manufacturing presidents made compelling cases to Minnesota legislators to continue the state’s popular Growth Acceleration Program (GAP), a matching grant that enables small manufacturing companies to access business improvement services.
Don VanderMey of Floe International, McGregor, Brandon Anderson of Von Ruden, Buffalo, and Traci Tapani of Wyoming Machine, Stacy, spoke to legislators Jan 31.
Since its inception in 2008 GAP has helped more than 245 Minnesota manufacturers create or retain 1,700 jobs and realize a $15 return for every $1 spent by GAP. On average, companies have realized as much as a $40 to $1 return on GAP.
VanderMey said GAP funding helped increase efficiencies and profitability in its company by reducing wastes through lean methodology. “I’ve become a bigger believer in how GAP helps companies,” said VanderMey. “Lean transformed our organization in a big way and GAP made that possible.” The company manufactures aluminum docks, boat lifts and trailers.
He said increasing efficiencies helped the company’s per employee revenue increase from $85,000 to $224,000. “There’s a pretty good chance we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t engaged with what Enterprise Minnesota’s training led us to,” he said.
At Von Ruden, GAP helped net a $60-to-$1 return on the state’s investment in 2012 and a $85-to-$1 return in 2013. “Going forward, we think we can exceed that,” Anderson said. “GAP is a tremendous resource for the Minnesota communities and employees that depend on the economic security that these manufacturers provide.” Von Ruden manufactures and distributes hydraulic motors, gear boxes, brakes and hydraulics.
Tapani said GAP helped Wyoming Machine develop strategic and marketing plans to find new clients, grow revenues and make continuous improvements. She said after the first year of receiving the GAP investment, the company’s sales revenues increased 10 percent and profit margins increased two percent. In addition, the company maintained its 55 employees and hired three more people last year. “GAP helped us feel confident about our plan for improvements and growth,” she said. Wyoming Machine offers precision metal fabrication solutions to a variety of industries.
“Clearly this is a program that works,” said Bob Kill, president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota. “GAP shows how a small investment can produce huge results for manufacturers, their employees and Minnesota’s economy.”
Representative Tim Mahoney, St. Paul, who chaired the House committee that heard Anderson’s testimony, shared his enthusiasm. “It’s easy to support something that works so well,” Rep. Mahoney said. “And the best part is that it’s easy to document the program’s success.”
Enterprise Minnesota administers GAP and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is the fiscal agent. Enterprise Minnesota is seeking $3 million to continue GAP for the 2014-15 Biennium.
Currently, manufacturing or manufacturing related service companies with fewer than 250 employees are eligible for GAP funding.
Manufacturing represents one in seven jobs in Minnesota. Each manufacturing job supports another 1.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy or 800,000 jobs in the state, a total of 29 percent of the workforce.
Enterprise Minnesota consults with medium size and smaller manufacturing companies to help them compete and grow profitably. It also serves as the “voice of manufacturing” to raise the industry’s profile as a sophisticated economic driver of Minnesota’s economy. The organization is Minnesota’s affiliate of the national Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program