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Wisconsin manufacturers make it happen

Manufacturing Month is here. Throughout October, the focus is on the innovative and resilient manufacturers that make it happen for our state’s economy.

There are more than 9,000 manufacturers in Wisconsin that employ nearly 470,000 people. The industrial sector is the top contributor to the state’s growing economy, producing more than $59 billion in total output in 2017, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the state’s total Gross Domestic Product.

Manufacturing is being highlighted and celebrated at nearly 100 events and conferences throughout Wisconsin in October. Manufacturers across the state are opening their doors to visitors to showcase their plants and highlight the variety of rewarding careers in modern manufacturing.

The growing strength of the manufacturing sector has allowed Wisconsin’s unemployment rate to continue to hover at near-historic lows while labor force participation rates remain extremely high. Even so, manufacturers know this isn’t the time to rest on their laurels. They need to constantly address key areas, such as human capital, automation and process improvement, to continue to gain strength and grow.

Wisconsin’s strength in the manufacturing sector is being noticed nationally and globally. Evidence of that includes the Foxconn Technology Group’s decision to move forward with its plans to construct a $10 billion LCD panel manufacturing complex in Southeast Wisconsin that could initially employ as many as 3,000 workers and possibly as many as 13,000 over time.

Manufacturing Month helps promote manufacturing as a viable career option for students and those looking to make a career change, helping to create a robust talent pipeline to meet Wisconsin manufacturers’ current and future needs.

Innovative Wisconsin manufacturers are getting out in front of these trends and growing their productivity while also increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. They are achieving extraordinary results through a commitment to continuous improvement in all phases of their business.

Throughout Manufacturing Month, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Workforce Development, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) system of Wisconsin are partnering to conduct a variety of activities to draw attention to manufacturing in our state.

The way forward for Wisconsin manufacturers is not to sit on the sidelines, but rather to “Make it Happen” in their organizations today and every day. Wisconsin manufacturers need to be flexible and responsive in this very dynamic manufacturing environment. Taking part in Manufacturing Month is a great place to start. Experience the excitement generated by Wisconsin manufacturers, from large, multinational operations to small mom-and-pop shops.

For more information about all the outstanding and informative Manufacturing Month activities in Wisconsin, go to www.wmc.org/programs/manufacturing-month/. To learn about the programs offered by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, go to www.wmep.org.

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Tim Wiora is executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a private, nonprofit organization committed to the success of Wisconsin manufacturers. Tim previously worked as a senior administrative program specialist for UW-Madison and served as a senior manager and practice lead at Scientific Commercialization in Madison. Raised in New Lisbon, Wis., Tim graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a deg

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