I recently lead a panel discussion on manufacturing in front of about 200 people at the annual convention of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM). It never hurts to be reminded about the value these professionals play in maintaining diverse and vibrant economies for Minnesota’s communities.
We at Enterprise Minnesota have long prioritized our role as an institutional connector for the broad coalition of groups that help manufacturers sustain their role as the job-creating engines of their local economies (not to mention the state’s). This broad ecosystem includes community leaders, educators, business leaders and policymakers at every level. Economic developers comprise a very significant function within that coalition, mostly because they actively cultivate relationships with all the other members.
For our part, Enterprise Minnesota helps manufacturers continually compete and grow by giving advice that makes them more strategic and that ensures their processes run with efficient productivity. For their part, local economic developers stand alongside manufacturers, helping promote partnerships, and looking for and making deals. Local economic developers go to work every day with the objective of trying to increase and diversify the tax base of their local economies in ways that secure vital economic self-sufficiency. They’re on the lookout for ever-higher-quality jobs and new-business prospects that might yield lucrative value-added opportunities. More often than not, their best accomplishments involve their local manufacturers.
One can’t overemphasize how important this is for Greater Minnesota.
I genuinely believe manufacturers are well-represented by the supportive members of the diverse ecosystem that sustains them, each in their own ways—including educators. But lest any of us ever get accused of excessive self-congratulation, we always do well to remember that Minnesota’s manufacturers are the reason we exist. This was confirmed for me yet again in my conversations with economic development leaders at EDAM. We know better than anyone that working within those quiet anonymous-seeming pole buildings in Minnesota’s rural communities are the job-creating wizards who drive their local economies, provide their local citizens with well-paying careers, and support the civic activities of their local communities. Our institutions would be meaningless without their risk-taking entrepreneurial zeal, their bold product innovation, their creative (and sometimes brave) market developments, their confidence in the face of economic disruption (and their singular focus in the face of enormous demand), and, frankly, their belief in their employees and their communities.
Bob Kill is president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota