Like the hockey mom who seizes too many opportunities to extol the talents of the goalie who sits at her dinner table every night, I’ll take the risk of naked self-promotion when I confess how much I enjoyed this particular magazine issue of Enterprise Minnesota®. And I’ll compound it further by telling you why.

Our cover story — “Savvy Diversification: How Central McGowan has used expansion and acquisitions to achieve dizzying success”— exemplifies much of what we try to accomplish in these pages. In it, one of our favorite writers, Sue Bruns, recounts how the inspirational entrepreneurial successes of Central McGowan benefit its employees, suppliers, and community as much as enriches its bottom line. On one level, Sue describes how multiple generations of company leaders have relied on market savvy and organizational discipline to identify and exploit ongoing opportunities to grow profitably. That alone makes it a great read. On another level, Sue demonstrates how (like many Minnesota manufacturers) the company has quietly sustained its local economy over several generations by providing increasingly high-quality, challenging career opportunities for employees to thrive. The story’s third level showcases how automation, Central McGowan’s newest specialty, is destined to become a solution for many small- and medium-sized manufacturers struggling to find an adequate number of employees. Every story in the magazine tries to tell an interesting tale that also illustrates deeper significance.

We devote extensive time and treasure publishing this magazine because manufacturers appreciate reading the only publication in Minnesota that covers the industry from their perspective. Along the way, we are pleased to show how Enterprise Minnesota’s consultants help our clients achieve strategic excellence in planning, HR, leadership and talent development, business management, overall productivity, and exit/succession. We also publish the magazine to benefit the groups that comprise Minnesota’s manufacturing ecosystem: public policymakers, educators, main-street businesses, and other community leaders. We understand that these groups can only begin to appreciate what manufacturers bring to their communities and constituencies if they understand what they do and how they do it.

Discerning readers occasionally comment on our magazine’s heavy emphasis on storytelling.

If I learned anything working as a staffer for the U.S. Senate and the Minnesota legislature in the first decade of my career, it’s how personal narratives can sometimes impact policymakers and public leaders more powerfully than mere economic statistics. That’s why Enterprise Minnesota, over the years, has helped facilitate more than 400 manufacturing company tours for officials and community leaders to experience first-hand how manufacturers contribute to the economic and cultural well-being of their communities and how ongoing public-private partnerships contribute to that success.

Nothing can replace the illuminating experience of a personal company tour, but we believe the pages in this magazine can provide a close second. No other publication reflects the opportunities and challenges that face manufacturers and their communities. We constantly profile how manufacturers are responding to the sometimes-overheated competition to recruit and retain employees (often with our help) and how educators are trying to fill that demand (and sometimes how they aren’t). Our recent issues have helped profile the unpredictable demands of the COVID economy. We have shown how manufacturers contend with competitive disruptions of cheap overseas products and how they’ve responded to the challenges of adjusting to what happens when that business “reshores.” We repeatedly illustrate the value of strategic planning and the competitive benefits of becoming part of the ISO culture.

Just as important, we think no one reading these pages will buy into the stubbornly false stereotypes that today’s manufacturing still involves dirty, monotonous, poorly paying, go-nowhere jobs. On the contrary, we hope these personal narratives inspire community stakeholders to appreciate the influences of manufacturers on their communities and collectively on the strength of Minnesota’s economy.