Even during Enterprise Minnesota’s first surveys during the Great Recession, manufacturers’ confidence about the future hovered in the high 70s and low 80s. By 2017, 94% of manufacturers we surveyed felt confident in the financial future of their companies.
Given this track record, it’s not surprising that while many respondents in this year’s survey expect a recession in the coming year, 88% remain confident their company can withstand it. And why not? In addition to what seems to be a persistently positive attitude among Minnesota manufacturers, they recently survived — and some thrived during — one of the most disruptive periods in American economic history.
They aren’t blindly optimistic, though. Our survey also shows that among respondents, fewer than half expect their revenue to increase next year, while less than a third say their profits will grow in that time. They also remain concerned about inflation and the perennial problem of attracting and retaining qualified workers.
I’m convinced that each of the profound business challenges executives have faced in recent years has added to their ability to face future crises. This is particularly important given the ongoing shift in ownership and leadership of manufacturing businesses to a younger generation.
I’m struck in particular by one recent conversation. In a gathering with 10 business leaders, I asked how many had previously experienced an inflationary period. Just one person raised his hand, and it turns out his experience with inflation was during college!
Like Minnesota manufacturers, I have confidence in the future because of these leaders. They may not have widespread experience with an inflationary economy, but they’ve lived a lifetime of business challenges since March of 2020, which will serve them well as they face a new round of economic challenges, including those identified in this year’s State of Manufacturing® survey.
Our annual State of Manufacturing survey has become a fixture within the business community and among our stakeholders, including policymakers at the state and federal levels. We have many people to thank for their work on this important undertaking each year.
As always, we’re grateful to our sponsors, whose financial backing helps us defray the considerable costs of the overall project. Their insights and ideas help us develop relevant poll questions, and their networks help connect us with a new group of thought leaders each year.
Finally, I extend sincere thanks to the manufacturers who take time out of their increasingly busy days to respond to our pollster, participate in our focus groups, and attend the regional events where we present and discuss the results.
Featured story in the Winter 2022 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine.