Seven months after the start of the global pandemic, it’s gratifying to see so many Minnesota manufacturers adapting to the COVID-19 landscape. It’s also gratifying to see that Enterprise Minnesota has successfully adapted right along with them.

Prior to COVID, Enterprise Minnesota had a steady schedule of workshops across the state. These workshops put on display some of the best work by our world-class consultants in strategic planning, continuous improvement, leadership development and other areas. The well-attended events were among our best tools for engaging with manufacturers, listening to their concerns and learning more about the issues they’re facing. At the same time, workshop attendees were able to network with rooms full of like-minded manufacturers.

After COVID, we put our heads together and tried to come up with a plan. With the world moving to the virtual environment, it seemed our only option was to move our manufacturing workshops to the virtual environment as well.

This was uncharted territory for us. Would manufacturers respond favorably to a Zoom workshop with the same enthusiasm they had for the in-person version? Would our consultants roll with the new COVID reality and adapt to their audience being on a flat computer screen versus being spread out comfortably in a banquet room?

The answer to both, of course, was YES.

In sort of an “if you build it, they will come” moment, we built virtual manufacturing workshops — and manufacturers came. In fact, the virtual environment actually made it easier for busy manufacturers to attend. Instead of taking a full morning out of their busy workweek, the Zoom version only took an hour and a half. And there’s no commute!

Our consultants, meanwhile, have heroically risen to the challenge. Steve Haarstad, David Ahlquist, Abbey Hellickson, Greg Langfield and Michele Neale have delivered flawless virtual versions of their consulting specialties. Consultants Keith Gadacz, Penny Hanson, and Ally Johnston will soon do the same.

Would we all rather be doing these workshops in person? Of course. Beyond the fact that the workshops are a great educational opportunity, they were also a great gathering opportunity. Seeing the smiling faces and shaking the hands of hard-working manufacturers is something we’re eager to get back to.

What the health care crisis has taught us is that we, like many manufacturers, are resilient. When adversity enters our world, we do what it takes to get the job done, even if it means completely rethinking how we do part of that job.

As we continue to navigate the choppy waters of the COVID economy, that resilience has confirmed for us what we’ve known for years about the state of manufacturing in Minnesota: Whatever speed bumps or curveballs come our way, the spirit, drive and perseverance of Minnesotans — and Minnesota manufacturers — is the X-factor that will help get us through this crisis.

When the pandemic passes, we look forward to seeing you in person again, and moving on to a brighter tomorrow.

Featured story in the Winter 2020 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine. 

Return to Winter 2020 magazine