Walker encourages manufacturing innovation

Manufacturers are responsible for finding a solution to the skills gap and taking ownership of the future of their industry.

That was a common theme at Manufacturing Matters, a daylong conference hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership in Milwaukee on Thursday.

Gov. Scott Walker, who spoke at the event, said the state that finds a solution to the skills gap will have a competitive advantage and drive economic development.

Manufacturing is part of Wisconsin’s heritage and also its future, Walker said. It makes up about 20 percent of the state’s economy and exports of local goods are increasing.

“The top three components of our export growth last year were in manufacturing,” he said.

Walker also touted his new budget proposals and his plans to create jobs, develop the workforce, transform education, reform government and make investments in infrastructure.

Tax incentives for manufacturers are meant to encourage investment, improve the companies’ bottom line and put people to work, he said. He’s also invested in marketing Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry both in state and out of state.

“It’s important for people to see that there aren’t just great jobs, there are great careers in manufacturing,” Walker said.

He vowed to improve the pace of the labor information system so employers can make informed decisions and invest more in career development for young students.

At the event, Walker announced the third phase of the WMEP’s Profitable Sustainability Initiative, funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The program, which promotes sustainable manufacturing in Wisconsin, is now accepting 32 new companies.

Manufacturers accepted into the program receive expert advice from a team of energy, environmental, logistics, lean and finance experts. The average participant saves $146,783 and breaks even on the investment within a year.

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