The Second Annual State of Manufacturing
BY BOB KILL
As Minnesota plots its way into economic recovery, the importance of manufacturing as our primary engine of job creation will assume its appropriate place as the means through which we get our people back to work.
The State of Manufacturing, our second annual comprehensive survey of Minnesota's manufacturing executives, should give policymakers, economic developers, community planners, bankers and media a great place to start.
The State of Manufacturing uses a statistically weighted polling sample to discover and analyze trends in manufacturers' thoughts about growth projections, customer relationships, financing, employee relations and workplace procedures, among other topics. We augment this with
focus groups-- this year we conducted 13--in which participants discuss the same issues, providing more subjective background on why they think the way they do.
In the results on of this issue, you will find that manufacturers revealed an impressive, forward-looking optimism. As you might expect, they are fighting to retain market share and employees, but they also have been looking for ways to retool, retrain their employees and
achieve a better competitive position as the economy turns around--even though they are increasingly constrained by tight credit and runaway health care costs.
Our pollster, Rob Autry, is a partner at Public Opinion Strategies (POS) in Alexandria, Va. POS is one of America's premier political and public affairs survey research companies whose clients include leading political figures, Fortune 500 companies and numerous associations.
The company's contributions include The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.
The State of Manufacturing is an expensive and time-intensive project. We could not have accomplished it without contributions of both time and funding from this year's sponsors. Our four principal partners this year included LarsonAllen LLP, providers of accounting and
business consulting services throughout Minnesota; RJF Agencies Inc., consultants for risk management, commercial insurance and employee benefits; Granite Equity Partners, a private equity firm specializing in financing buyouts, recapitalizations and growth company transactions; and
the Center for Rural Policy and Development, a St. Peter-based organization dedicated to providing unbiased research on issues from a rural perspective.
This year's regional sponsors included the Blandin Foundation, Iron Range Resources and the Southwest Initiative Foundation.
Individual focus groups were sponsored by St. Paul Port Authority, Printing Industry of Minnesota, Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association, Minnesota Bank & Trust, United Prairie Bank, Productivity Inc., Central Minnesota Manufacturers Association, Arrowhead
Manufacturers & Fabricators Association and Tri-State Manufacturers' Association.
For those interested in Minnesota's manufacturing industry, The State of Manufacturing is a must read.