Manufacturing Transitions to New Era


The state’s top elected official recently proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin. He says manufacturing is the backbone of the state’s economy and local industries often serve as a staple in their respective communities through the creation of family-supporting jobs and ongoing capital investments.

Impressive statistics were offered with the proclamation. Last year, the state’s manufacturing sector employed more than 461,000 workers, accounted for more than 18 percent of the gross domestic product, and contributed over $56 billion to Wisconsin’s economic growth.

The U.S. manufacturing sector is so significant it would rank as the tenth-largest world economy, according to the Manufacturing Institute. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found a new manufacturing job has a multiplier of 1.5, meaning 100 new manufacturing jobs create 50 full-time jobs in other sectors. Manufacturing also has a multiplier on demand for raw material, energy, and services. Every dollar spent in manufacturing supports more than $1.30 in output from other sectors, making manufacturing the top multiplier.

Manufacturing in St. Croix County is substantial, too. The American Fact Finder research tool indicates St. Croix has around 170 manufacturers, employing just over 6,000 men and women with an annual payroll of almost $324 million. Total manufacturing shipments in 2012 were estimated at $1.3 billion.

What about the 3-Ds of manufacturing that grandpa warned small children of – Dark, Dirty, and Dangerous? Today’s industries better reflect the term advanced manufacturing – combining exacting formulas and close tolerances with quality-controlled production. Several manufacturers in St. Croix possess cleanroom space for production and assembly, allowing for the filtration of airborne dust. The newly-opened WinField® United facility boasts a wind tunnel, and a second is on the way. On other fronts, manufacturers push science and technology to new limits in order for their products to be stronger than steel, lighter than air, and cheaper than dirt. This is not your grandpa’s version of manufacturing and 3-D may better describe a software design program or a printer that creates objects from substrate material.

The world has changed. Bigger and better farms yielded to bigger and better factories, and now, bigger and better services are dominant. Even with more services and cell phone app’s, manufacturing still plays a vital role.

Happy Manufacturers Month. May advanced manufacturing prosper in St. Croix County.