Manufacturing Odds & Ends

Manufacturing survey will provide benchmarks for Wisconsin
What are the best practices that will propel Wisconsin manufacturers to success in 2015?  To what extent are the state’s 10,000 manufacturers embracing world class manufacturing strategies to transform their companies?

Wisconsin’s Next Generation Manufacturing Survey will provide answers and fresh insights to those and other questions. The web-based survey was launched today and can be accessed at www.WisconsinNGM.com.

Any Wisconsin manufacturing owner, chief executive officer or senior level executive is eligible to participate. The survey is confidential and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Deadline for participation is Sept. 30.

Survey participants will receive a personalized Next Generation Manufacturing Performance Report or a summary report after results are tabulated. 

The survey will identify and measure key performance metrics and best practice strategies consistent with next generation manufacturing. The elements of next generation manufacturing are customer-focused innovation, global engagement, green/sustainability, supply chain management and collaboration, process improvement and talent acquisition and retention.

"Everyone – industry leaders, government officials, academia – understands that Wisconsin’s manufacturing base must change if it’s going to win in this new economy," said Mike Klonsinski, executive director of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP). "The survey results will provide us with a scorecard to determine where we are today, and where we need to be to be considered a world class manufacturing center."

The survey is being conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute for WMEP and its partners, the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Milwaukee 7, New North, Inc. and the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center (NWMOC). 

The survey findings will be used to align and strengthen local and state policies, programs and infrastructure supporting the state’s 10,000 manufacturers. Klonsinski said.  Survey results will be released this fall, and will be widely disseminated to business leaders, elected officials, state policymakers, the media and general public. For more information on the survey, call 1-877-800-2124 or email results@wmep.org.

Tax rebates gave temporary boost to GDP
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported last week that the national gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 3.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter, revised from the government’s previous estimate and exceeding economists’ expectations.

The growth was fueled by additional consumer spending after the federal tax rebates and by the continued declining value of the U.S. dollar that made American products more price-competitive.

The rebound came after two dismal quarters. The economy shrank in the final three months of 2007 and grew in the first quarter at 0.9 percent pace.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently warned that the economy will be weak through the rest of this year.

Economist Peter Morici, who is ranked as the most accurate economic forecaster at Marketwatch.com, predicts the economy will hit another pothole in the second half of the year, as the impact of the tax rebates subsides.

"Consumer spending was given a big bounce from the stimulus package tax rebate checks, especially during May and to a lesser extent in June. However, the effects of that stimulus package have now worn off and consumer activity is slowing," said Morici, professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. "My forecast is for a very small gain of 0.2 percent in July but that still would not be enough to offset the effects of inflation. Real consumer spending appears to be contracting  … The good news is that productivity growth remains strong, American industry continues to bang out new creative and attractive products, and the economy is likely to have only a shallow recession. The economy should bottom out in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter on 2009, and then recover. Don’t look for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates before 2009."

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