Lynn Shelton


The Weekly Report – May 4, 2020.
Quality jobs drive our communities. And manufacturers provide them.

This COVID-19 weird-athon gives us time to appreciate things we occasionally take for granted. I thought of this as a lot of communities—particularly in Greater Minnesota—breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when the state allowed all manufacturers to reactivate their operations.

I frequently use this space to describe and praise how Minnesota’s manufacturers contribute significantly to the economic vitality and overall quality of life of their home communities. (A friend calls them my USA! USA! columns, a description I kind of like).

Allow me to do it again. To me, it is all about jobs, quality jobs. Our society’s best aspirations are sustained by our economy’s ability to provide its citizens with access to meaningful work. People are always better off when they have access to steady, challenging jobs that reward hard work, reliability and personal responsibility. Those attributes, in turn, breathe stability, dignity and self-reliance into our families and our communities. To me, it constitutes the cornerstone of the American economy. (I know, USA! USA!)

We see over and again how manufacturers supply those opportunities to people in their communities.

We all watched how a hash of unprecedented economic circumstances forced the typical economic development model to gradually mutate over the last several years. While manufacturers confronted the demands of a booming economy, they faced a significant demographic decline in the number of work-ready adults they need to complete those orders. And in the midst of that, companies based in Greater Minnesota had to contend with the worrisome economic deterioration of smaller communities. There were no easy answers in any of this.

And that’s pre-COVID-19. The new economy will gyrate business-as-usual in ways none of us can predict. But what I do know is that manufacturers will continue to create high-quality jobs that will support their employees and their communities.

What I also know is that manufacturers will have to become more and more efficient. They’ll have to produce more and better products with fewer people. That means their operations will be more technologically sophisticated, meaning that the people who operate those machines will receive better and more meaningful jobs. Manufacturing jobs will continue to be the highest paying, with the best benefits and superior stability of any.

The path ahead might be bumpy, or maybe not so much. Nobody knows for sure. But the future and inevitable growth of Minnesota’s manufacturers will juice their own economies. Their ongoing work will feed the other local links in Minnesota’s manufacturing supply chains. They’ll continue to provide work for their bankers, lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers and consultants. And their employees will provide steady customers for local grocers, pharmacies, car mechanics, plumbers, electricians, hardware stores and restaurants.

Quality, reliable jobs will always be the economic engine that drives our communities. And manufacturers will continue to supply them.

Industry News

Rochester workers carrying on as normal as thousands return to work – As work from home restrictions for some jobs begin to be lifted, several business owners in southeastern Minnesota say it isn’t changing the way they operate. Apr. 27, ABC6 News  Read more

$1.3 million in grants awarded to help train Minnesota workers – MN DEED has awarded nine workforce grants to Minnesota businesses and educational institutions to keep high-quality jobs in the state. Apr 28, Grand Forks Herald  Read more

Long Prairie plant ramps up production of ventilator parts – Chandler Industries has been producing precision-machined ventilator parts at its facility in Montevideo for a decade, but the company has expanded production at its Long Prairie and Bethel plants, due to recent demand. Apr. 30, Dairyland Peach  Read more

How General Mills raced coronavirus across the globe – Since January, the Golden Valley-based food giant has been adapting processes, procedures and supply chains to stay ahead of the pandemic. May 4, Busines Journal  Read more

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