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Refocusing the Legislative Lens

The Weekly Report – November 15, 2021
2021 State of Manufacturing results should prompt an even greater spotlight on manufacturing.

As I reflect on this year’s State of Manufacturing® survey (SOM), focus groups, and the event we held on November 10th, it’s encouraging to see the evolution of manufacturing’s supporters grow over time.

For the last 13 years the SOM has continued to find audiences, grab media interest and help build coalitions that rally around the industry whose products make our country run.

This group—which includes manufacturers, related business industries, local trade groups, economic developers, educators, and public policy makers—represents the kind of genuine, organic coalition of interests and individuals that comprise Minnesota’s manufacturing community. When we harness the energy and ideas of these people, we ensure that manufacturers are given proper ongoing credit for being the job creating engine of Minnesota’s economy and the nexus of economic activity in their communities. Minnesota’s manufacturers pay well, offer excellent working environments, and provide more stability than virtually any sector in the economy.

So now, more than ever, Minnesota’s small and medium size manufacturers merit greater attention from Minnesota’s legislative delegation.

Manufacturers need employees to remain competitive. The SOM survey showed that workforce challenges are a top concern of manufacturers, a jump of 25 points from only a year ago. The only thing manufacturers can’t manufacture is people! But they are coping. They are learning to squeeze more productivity out of the people they have, which includes adding smart automation to their operations. They’re conceiving short term strategies that navigate the lingering COVID economy. And they’re upgrading their operations by getting ISO certified, the international standard of a well-run organization.

But to implement these improvements, many underserved small or rural manufacturers need a “hand-up.” There’s a long-standing program that the Minnesota Legislature historically financed called the Growth Acceleration Program (GAP), but GAP lost its legislative support in the swirl of legislative activities last year. Let’s hope the legislature takes another look at GAP this year.

What’s more important than a good job to help feed families and contribute to their local communities?

Since 2008, GAP has helped hundreds of Minnesota’s small and medium sized manufacturing companies access business improvement services that increase job creation, job retention, and business growth. All companies that were awarded GAP resources matched at least $1 for every $1 of GAP investment. Manufacturing leaders testify that the return on the State’s investment is conservatively $25 to $1.

An independent audit of GAP has shown that since its inception, GAP has helped 433 manufacturing companies create and retain 12,556 jobs, increase and retain company sales by $1.46 billion, save $206 million in business costs, and they’ve invested $583 million in plant, equipment, technology and employee skills development. Pretty solid ROI for a small state program of roughly $800K per year.

You’ll hear more about GAP in the upcoming 2022 legislative session. In the meantime, Enterprise Minnesota will continue to consult with manufacturers around the state to help them compete and grow. We’ll continue to promote manufacturing and manufacturers as exceptional employers and great careers that fuel our economy.

We’ll also continue to talk about the challenges and opportunities of 2022 that manufacturers expressed in our SOM survey. We’re planning to present the results in a series of meetings hosted by each of the six Initiative Foundation regions in Greater Minnesota to meet with the coalition of manufacturing supporters: manufacturers, related businesses, economic development professionals, local business trade organizations, educators, elected public officials and media. The event schedule is below. Hope to see you there!

State of Manufacturing regional events calendar:

Events Calendar

November 18 – Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Expert Ally Johnston will show you how small daily improvements can add significant value by compounding over time and how employee engagement is key to CI and overall employee retention. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

December 14 – Strategic Planning for Manufacturers
Strategy and Revenue Growth expert Steve Haarstad will demonstrate ways to approach strategic planning for the short and long term and why strategic planning shouldn’t be solely for the CEO. Online via Zoom  Learn more and register

January 6 – Developing Your Leaders From Within
Join us IN PERSON in Dassel, MN for a manufacturing workshop with expert Michele Neale on ways to develop your future organizational leaders, including how to define the competencies you need and making a plan for success.  Learn more and register

See more upcoming events

Industry News

Olsen Thielen hosts local State of Manufacturing® event on November 17
Join fellow manufacturing executives on November 17 at Olsen Thielen CPA’s headquarters in Roseville, MN for a local manufacturers-only SOM event where we will be reviewing the results of the 2021 State of Manufacturing® survey.  Read more

MN manufacturers continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, according to survey
The State of Manufacturing survey shows the two most pressing concerns are supply chain and attracting qualified workers, with 62% of those surveyed currently hiring. November 13, St. Cloud Times  Read more

Andersen Corp. names Chris Galvin as president and COO
Galvin, who has over 20 years of experience with the Bayport-based window manufacturing company, will serve as the company’s first coo and president in the newly created role.​​​​​ November 12, Business Journal  Read more

Polaris, Toro have solution to chip shortage: products with less technology
Facing a chip shortage that has plagued manufacturers in a variety of industries, some Minnesota manufacturers are trying to adjust by building products that require fewer chips. November 14, Business Journal  Read more

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