Manufacturing is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy, thanks to the sector’s strength, versatility and innovation. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Manufacturing added $52.7 billion to Minnesota’s economy in 2018, representing the second-largest contribution (14%) to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) by any industry. Minnesota has 322,000 manufacturing jobs statewide, which is 13% of all private-sector jobs.
Raising public awareness about the importance of manufacturing was the goal of several community partners in the Winona area. Throughout October, the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce honored manufacturing sector job creators during the MN Manufacturers and Technology Month. Winona State University’s Business Outreach Coordinator, Julie Kiehne, served on the Chamber’s Manufacturer Event Planning Committee and assisted with the month-long celebration.
As part of the celebration, the Winona Area Chamber recognized Winona manufacturer, Miller Ingenuity, as the recipient of the MN Governor’s Commendation Award at the Thursday, October 10th Manufacturers and Technology Luncheon held at Winona State University’s Tau Center. This year’s theme was Innovative Approaches to Workforce Shortages in Manufacturing. A short keynote presentation was provided by Bob Kill, President & CEO of Enterprise MN, who also facilitated a panel of local experts.
Also, in the month of October, several local manufacturers opened their doors and offered tours as an opportunity for community members to discover the innovative and high-tech world of modern manufacturing. Ten local businesses offered tours including: Benchmark, WinCraft, Willet Hauser, Sanborn Canoe, Fastenal, MN State College Southeast, J.R. Watkins, Thern, RiverSide Electronics (Lewiston) and PlastiCert (Lewiston). Thanks to all the manufacturers for participating in this month’s events and providing a dynamic and robust industry, crucial to the health and strength of our diverse economy!