The Weekly Report – January 16, 2024
A recent State of Manufacturing® survey event turned into a showcase of innovative efforts to support and develop the region’s workforce.

Each year we take the results of our annual State of Manufacturing® survey on the road, offering manufacturers and their supporters throughout Minnesota a chance to learn about and discuss the data with each other and Enterprise Minnesota staff. More than 100 manufacturers and their supporters attended last week’s event in Owatonna. At the high-energy event, participants heard about the survey, and were also treated to something of an expo of recent regional initiatives undertaken to bolster the region’s manufacturing sector.

Among the highlights:

  • With more than 30% of the Owatonna-area workforce in manufacturing, maintaining a vibrant pipeline of future employees is critical. During “Made in Owatonna Days” high school students tour manufacturing facilities to spark their interest in manufacturing. To educate those future employees, local leaders secured funding from the state thanks to assistance from Sen. John Jasinski. The money will help provide advanced manufacturing equipment both at the new high school and at Riverland Community College in Owatonna.
  • Steele Co. Works, a collaborative initiative among the Chamber, United Way and the Steele County Schools, places area high school students in apprenticeships, internships, and job shadowing experiences. The career & workforce counselor at the high school coordinates with participating employers to match students with career opportunities.
  • Area companies reach out directly to students in the technical education pipeline. When one company lost a welder who left to become an instructor at South Central College, they used that opportunity to strengthen ties with the college. Everyone on the company’s leadership team is asked to be involved with South Central College in some way, just as they are with the local high schools.

  • Companies in Rochester work with the high schools to offer internships that begin training welders. They bring students into the workplace to see if they might be interested in manufacturing careers, reaching out and offering programs during the school day to increase the likelihood of participation.
  • Faribault’s Chamber of Commerce is developing plans–with input from manufacturers–for a 100-slot 24/7 daycare facility while initiating a community-wide effort to support existing daycare providers.
  • In Luverne, a congressional earmark provided funding to convert an empty call center into a daycare facility. Leaders of the effort provide ongoing communication with existing daycare providers to ensure the new center is seen as an additional resource and not a competitor.
  • Several communities are working to address housing shortages that hinder workforce growth. One is considering buying a now-closed hotel to offer temporary housing, and others are laying the groundwork to expand home ownership in their communities.

Events like this offer outstanding opportunities for manufacturers to connect with each other and the strong network of manufacturing allies that supports them. For those who haven’t had a chance to participate in a SOM event this year, we will be in Duluth on February 13 and Mahnomen on March 26. Register here.

Upcoming Events

Find upcoming manufacturing events and workshops on our Events page.

Industry News

Minnesota tribe builds first-of-its-kind manufacturing facility for game-changing building material: ‘A no-brainer’
January 12,

Patrick Industries buys Minnesota manufacturer Sportech for $315 million
January 11, MSP Business Journal

SMIF, Enterprise Minnesota present top concerns for regional manufacturers at Owatonna event
January 9, Owatonna People’s Press

Medtronic to close five plants, six distribution centers as it tries to raise profits
January 9, Star Tribune