Wisconsin depends on manufacturing: A look at yesterday's Manufacturing Expo in Green Bay
A full 20% of Wisconsin's workforce is based in manufacturing--double the national average.
With manufacturing so important to Wisconsin's workers, it's little wonder that the state is concerned about holding onto its industrial sector.
In an effort to boost the state's industrial prowess, business and community leaders gathered in Green Bay yesterday for a "Manufacturing First Expo" that drew 75 exhibitors and roughly 400 attendees.
Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul spoke at the conference. As he explained to the Green Bay Press Gazette's Nathan Phelps, manufacturing is "a huge player in the economic landscape in Northeastern Wisconsin":
"A healthy manufacturing base is essential to our national economy, but it's absolutely critical to the local economy," he said. "Wisconsin has the most concentrated manufacturing sectors in the country, and one of the largest areas of concentration of manufacturing in Wisconsin is in northeast Wisconsin."
To keep the sector vital, Paul said the nation needs to build "aggregate demand" for domestically produced products. Methods should range from investing in the nation's infrastructure to enhancing the educational system to train younger workers for manufacturing jobs.
"It's a work force that is getting up there in years … so it's essential to get young people interested in manufacturing careers and to have a support system for them once they make that decision," he said. "There's no silver bullet … but part of the answer is exposing parents, teachers, guidance counselors, popular culture and students to manufacturing and getting them into facilities and talking about how important it is.
In a speech at the conference, Paul offered some key points on Wisconsin's industrial economy:
Manufacturing has led the recovery in Wisconsin, adding 22,100 jobs;
But, that is still only 30% of manufacturing jobs lost in recent years;
Manufacturing employment growth of 3% or more expected over next three years;
Wisconsin is most manufacturing-intensive state in U.S.;
Manufacturing accounts for about 1/5 of state’s GDP and 460,000 workers
FLASHBACK: Below, the Green Bay Packers explain why manufacturing is important to their state:
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