The economic benefit manufacturers bring to their communities is something that defies a political party label.
By Lynn Shelton
Enterprise Minnesota's Director of Marketing and Legislative Relations
I have devoted a lot of space in this column over the years in praise of small and medium-size manufacturers who take the time and initiative to invite local elected officials to tour their plants. (We at Enterprise Minnesota have orchestrated more than 200 of those events).
The dividends from these tours become more evident every year as Bob Kill (Enterprise Minnesota’s president and CEO) and I visit with Minnesota’s legislators and their staff members at the Capitol in St. Paul. They increasingly like to tell us how they’ve learned about their local manufacturers during their visits. This is great. Please keep it up.
Some perceptive manufacturers have also seen the value of expanding the tours to include other community members, as well, who might benefit from the sometimes eye-opening revelations during their tour. Local economic developers learn how having solid manufacturers in their economic base makes their communities more attractive for other kinds of businesses. Chamber executives experience firsthand how manufacturing’s “multiplier effect”—that manufacturers create 1.9 jobs for every person they employ—benefits their entire membership. Teachers, administrators, and school counselors see the kinds of rewarding, challenging, and well-paying careers that are available to students who are willing to invest in the kind of technical education necessary to join that workforce.
There is just no downside to hosting these events. Some manufacturers tell us that the community awareness and praise that results from these tours also provides a nice bump to employee morale.
Still, it occurs to me also that much tribute should also be paid to our elected officials who go out of their way to ensure that manufacturers are well-appreciated members of their constituencies. Here is a valuable case in point: Bob and I met recently with 6th District Congressman Tom Emmer; David Fitzsimmons, his chief of staff; and Stacy Morse, the congressman’s Minnesota district director. We have long appreciated that the congressman and his chief made a point of attending the statewide rollout of last year’s State of Manufacturing® survey, and the congressman will participate on the panel that analyzes the results at this year’s event on May 9th at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
During our meeting, we provided a list of small and medium-size manufacturers in the 6th District, which he and his team perused. They checked off the companies they had already visited, usually mentioning an anecdote or lesson they had learned along the way.
Then, without prompting, the congressman dived into a long and well-informed monologue about how communities—manufacturers, educators, and business advocates—must band together to address the challenge that too few students are being directed toward educational paths that lead to really good careers in manufacturing. “Not everybody is going to be a doctor or a lawyer,” he said. “They have got to learn that there are jobs out there that will pay $40,000 to $50,000 after just two years of school.”
We left the meeting thinking, first, here is a member of Congress who really knows his district and who is unafraid to speak uncomfortable truths if they lead to a constructive end, and, second, we discussed how having your manufacturers’ backs represents a policy priority that transcends politics.
Our meeting with Congressman Emmer is no different from numerous sessions we’ve had with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and her staff members.
These are two elected officials whose political philosophies probably don’t intersect a whole lot. Yet, in addition to being genuinely nice, approachable people, they share a commitment to learning about manufacturers and what they can do—together—to help manufacturers support their communities.
How To Develop Your Future Leaders
**Exclusive to Manufacturers**
Thursday, February 23, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
St. Cloud State University - Welcome Center
355 5th Av S., Room 120
St. Cloud, MN 56301
What to Expect
Manufacturers know that the growing skills gap means they can no longer count on hiring applicants who will have the skills they need. Instead, they urgently need to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their current employees. Equally important, manufacturers need to focus on the unique competencies that comprise leadership skills.
Please join us to learn insights about the critical components of talent management and the steps necessary to develop a successful leadership development program. Upon completion of the workshop participants will be able to:
- Define talent and talent management
- Identify the talent management life cycle
- Describe key components to talent management
- Explain the impact leaders have on an organization
- Depict steps to developing a leadership development program
- Create an action plan to implement within their own organization
This event is exclusive to manufacturers and is free of charge. Registration required.
To register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-455-4239