2017 State Of Manufacturing Highlights Trends And Challenges
Steve Cochems of Anderson Fabrics has designed fabrics for clients such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Tiger Woods, just to name a few.
“Healthcare is getting more and more expensive,” said Cochems.
Yet he still has a hard time hiring employees even though they don’t need a background in manufacturing.
“Thirty percent of our workforce has been there for over 15 years,” said Cochems. “Baby boomers are getting older and we have a number of people that have been very, very good Anderson Fabrics employees for many years that are retiring now. We need to bring in younger people.”
Cochems, educators, economic developers and manufacturers were in the same room at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for the 9th Annual State of Manufacturing.
“Manufacturing creates 13 percent of the jobs in the state, 16 percent of the wages, which is a great multiple; and offers great careers for young people and even people thinking about changing their career maybe later in life” said Enterprise Minnesota President & CEO Bob Kill.”
The occasion highlighted a survey on trends in the manufacturing industry and how to address any challenges. The survey was centered on the 12 counties in the Northwest region.
“Manufacturing is a core of strength in communities,” said Kill.
“I think we went through a generation or two of telling people that manufacturing is not a great job for young people,” said Kill. “Now we’re starting to realize that it shouldn’t be a consolation prize, it’s a great career opportunity, very good pay and it keeps young people in the community.”
Guests also heard from panelists including the superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools. Cochems responds to the surveys every year and appreciates the focus on the community.
“Interesting to see that other parts of the state have many similar problems, but when you get to the rural area of Minnesota there’s unique challenges,” said Cochems.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, manufacturing was the largest private sector contributor to Minnesota’s gross domestic product in 2015.