Minnesota Manufacturing's Fabulous Five
Story Highlights Enterprise Minnesota Magazine's Call Out to Excellent Manufacturing Communities
The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jan. 23 business section highlighted this month's Enterprise Minnesota magazine tribute to Alexandria, Mankato, St. Cloud, St. Paul and the Iron Range as great places to do business in the state. While manufacturing's success is evident across Minnesota, a few communities are exceptionally supportive of their local manufacturers' continued success. From land redevelopment and lower-interest financing to collaborations with local education and economic development entities, each community is dedicated to developing its current manufacturers, and training and attracting the industry's next generation of workers to ensure future growth.
In St. Paul, the St. Paul Port Authority has redeveloped 1,200 acres of land into 22 business parks that are home to 500 industrial companies employing 17,000 workers. Among the parks' newest tenants are Brazil-based steel manufacturing giant Gerdau and Japan-based machining equipment manufacturer Matsuura Machinery, both of which chose St. Paul for their expansions after considering cities across North America.
Alexandria's reputation as the "Silicon Valley" of the packaging equipment world is bolstered by the recent establishment of the Packaging Machine Manufacturers' Consortium (PMMC), which brings companies together to promote the industry and recruit and train new workers. PMMC members were integral in the design of a new industrial program at the new Alexandria Area High School, which will feature a state-of-the-art industrial center and lab when it opens in the fall of 2014.
Formed in 2008, St. Cloud's Central Minnesota Manufacturers' Association (CMMA) unites 110 area manufacturers in regular networking opportunities and efforts to spark student interest in manufacturing careers. CMMA regularly partners with local schools to sponsor student field trips and also funds $1,000 kits for students to participate in the popular VEX Robotics Program, in which student teams build robots and then send them into regional, U.S. and world competitions with other robots. In 2009, CMMA also originated what has since become the Statewide Tour of Manufacturing, an annual event where dozens of manufacturers across the state open their doors for tours to give local students, parents, teachers and residents an inside look at modern manufacturing's high-tech operations.
Mankato's Minnesota State University-Mankato and South Central College regularly work with area manufacturers to ensure skills taught align with the local industry's current and future workforce needs. In response to a growing number of companies seeking lean training for their employees, South Central College created an online program that teaches the basic tenets of lean in a matter of hours. The online format is more economical than in-person training, and allows students to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
South Central College is also one of two colleges the nation selected by the Obama Administration to deliver the Right Skills Now program, designed to boost supplies of qualified CNC machine operators in local communities. Students learn basic CNC machine operation skills in an accelerated, 16-week curriculum based on competencies from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, and then go on to receive 16 weeks of on-the-job instruction at local companies. Each participating company agrees to take a predetermined number of students, and hire them if all goes well.
Up north, state agency Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) helps existing businesses secure low-interest financing for expansions and large capital equipment purchases. It also kicks in funds for customized training programs that local manufacturers and higher education institutions develop together. One of those programs is the new Iron Range Engineering degree offered by Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, which teaches advanced engineering skills in the context of local industry engineering projects, rather than typical classroom study.
"We believe in "economic gardening" here," explains IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich, a fourth-generation Iron Ranger. "We look at existing businesses and ask them, 'How can we help you grow?'"
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Smith Foundry, Minneapolis
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Expansion Planned for Viracon in Owatonna
Owatonna's largest manufacturer is looking to expand its facilities, making it possible to retain between 500 and 800 jobs that might otherwise be lost, company officials said. Apogee Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Viracon, a company that creates high performance architectural glass used in buildings all over the world, is planning on investing $30 million to build a new 100,000 square-foot facility in Owatonna. Southernminn.com article continues
Sizing Up 3M's R&D Facility
The latest addition to 3M Company's Maplewood headquarters campus will be a large structure - as big as the company's goal to up its research game.
Finance & Commerce article
Mankato Ranked Top In Support for Manufacturing
Mankato is nice to its manufacturers.The city is one of five in the state named as "Great Places to be a Manufacturer in Minnesota," by Enterprise Minnesota Magazine.
The areas were honored for their support of manufacturers through partnerships with education, redeveloping land and offering lower-interest financing.
MnTAP Taking Proposals for Summer Internship Program
The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is currently seeking project proposals from Minnesota businesses for its 2013 summer intern program. Businesses interested in reducing waste and improving energy efficiency are encouraged to apply for an intern. Each year, the interns are chosen based upon their outstanding educational background and leadership capabilities. Proposals are due to MnTAP by Feb.1.
MnTAP article continues
Enterprise Minnesota Looking for Service Delivery Consultant
Enterprise Minnesota is seeking a talented business professional to join its statewide team.
STEM Internship Program Helps Minnesota Companies Meet Future Workforce Needs
The Minnesota High Tech Association is offering a paid internship program that matches college students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines with small, for-profit companies with fewer than 100 employees. Eligible industries include manufacturing, mining, materials, processing, fuels, energy, ag, food, forestry, biotech and life sciences, aerospace and defense. For more information, go the SciTechsperience page on the MHTA website
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