#381. Tour of Manufacturing

Posted on | The Agurban
Tour of Manufacturing 

We love it when we hear great ideas from our readers! One of the best ideas we have received came from Lisa Workman, Executive Director of the Fergus Falls (MN) Area Chamber of Commerce. Below is the message we initially received from Lisa, followed by her comments after the event: 

Here’s proof that manufacturing is alive and well, especially in rural areas: 2 States + 8 Manufacturing Sites = More than 40 Career Opportunities. 

The “Tour of Manufacturing” gives people a chance to venture inside facilities they have only driven past in Fergus Falls, MN and Wahpeton, ND. Open Houses at 8 manufacturing sites on Saturday, April 21st will allow people to see how things are made and who makes them. There are more than 40 job openings at sites on the tour and demand for skilled workers will continue to rise as baby-boomers retire. One goal of the tour is to familiarize people with the unique, high-paying and abundant career opportunities associated with manufacturing. Prepare to be amazed by the level of technology and automation used in our region’s modern manufacturing facilities.

The event is modeled on the “Tour of Homes” concept where you decide which sites you visit and how long you stay. The event is FREE and open to everyone in the community from school-age kids* and families to college students and retirees. In Fergus Falls, visit these manufacturers: Green Plains Otter Tail, Shoremaster, StoneL and Vector Windows. Bobcat, ComDel, WCCO Belting and Wil-Rich are open for tours in Wahpeton. 

Today’s manufacturing requires highly-skilled and educated technicians who earn an average salary of more than $41,000** in our region. Gloomy rooms and greasy machines of the past have been replaced with computers and cutting-edge technology. Career opportunities in manufacturing include: administration, assembly, auto CAD, customer service, design, distribution, engineering, installation, logistics, management, precision machining, welding and more. 

Strong, versatile and innovative, manufacturing is the backbone of the state’s economy and accounts for 13% of all jobs in west central Minnesota. From high-tech electronics and heavy equipment to communications and household products, our manufacturers produce a wide variety of goods that are known the world over for their high quality. Each manufacturing job supports another 1.9 jobs elsewhere in the economy through supplier purchases and employee spending. In total, manufacturing accounts for nearly 850,000 jobs or 33% of all jobs in Minnesota. 

After the event Lisa got back with us to say that they event was a huge success, with 800 – 1,000 unique visits to the eight manufacturers, with 80 job openings that day that employers were looking to fill. She said the comments she received from the visitors were primarily centered around how clean the manufacturing plants were and how much pride the workers had in the work they were doing. 

Lisa went on to say that some of the impediments the employers face include the competition these manufacturers have in getting workers vs. the increase in oil field work in western North Dakota, and the lack of vocational training available, especially in high school. 

But she said one of the biggest hurdles is the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits unemployed workers presently get. 

Congratulations to Lisa and the rest of the group for putting together the “Tour of Manufacturing.” Could your area use this great idea?