Podium on stage

Makin’ It: Minnesota Manufacturers Bullish on Growth, Worried About Recruitment

Busi­ness is boom­ing for Minnesota’s mak­ers, from the Metro to the Iron Range and every­where in-between. This year’s ninth-annu­al State of Man­u­fac­tur­ing Sur­vey from Enter­prise Min­neso­ta, shared at an event on May 9, revealed a strong sense of opti­mism among Min­neso­ta man­u­fac­tur­ers. We attend­ed the event with our man­u­fac­tur­ing and non-man­u­fac­tur­ing clients alike in mind, as the cur­rent trends and under­cur­rents that influ­ence Minnesota’s man­u­fac­tur­ing land­scape of course also affect the broad­er economy.

Because man­u­fac­tur­ing has such an enor­mous impact on busi­ness in Min­neso­ta, it was encour­ag­ing to hear that more than 90 per­cent of the 400+ man­u­fac­tur­ers sur­veyed felt con­fi­dent about the futures of their com­pa­nies, the high­est num­ber record­ed in the survey’s nine years of polling. Even more impres­sive is the 57 per­cent of respon­dents who said they felt “very con­fi­dent” about the future, up 14 per­cent from last year’s survey.

Despite bull­ish atti­tudes about the future, Min­neso­ta man­u­fac­tur­ers share sev­er­al con­cerns about poten­tial lim­i­ta­tions to fur­ther growth. Ris­ing health care costs con­tin­ue to be a major wor­ry, with 59 per­cent of respon­dents cit­ing it as the most trou­ble­some issue fac­ing their companies.

Anoth­er grow­ing chal­lenge is a short­age of human cap­i­tal – across the state, man­u­fac­tur­ers of all sizes are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty fill­ing open posi­tions, lim­it­ing growth poten­tial and adding recruit­ing and hir­ing costs to the bot­tom line. More than 31 per­cent of man­u­fac­tur­ers sur­veyed named “attract­ing and retain­ing a qual­i­fied work­force” as their pri­ma­ry con­cern – near­ly dou­bling last year’s total.

Recruit­ing and reten­tion is espe­cial­ly trou­bling for large man­u­fac­tur­ers with more than $5 mil­lion in rev­enue, and par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing for Greater Min­neso­ta com­pa­nies, which often have to com­pete for tal­ent with Metro-area employ­ers. That’s one rea­son why the state Depart­ment of Employ­ment and Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment (DEED) and Depart­ment of Labor and Indus­try (DLI) are help­ing many Min­neso­ta man­u­fac­tur­ers estab­lish appren­tice­ship pro­grams that give qual­i­fied work­ers the valu­able expe­ri­ence need­ed to start a career in man­u­fac­tur­ing, with the hope these work­ers will advance through the ranks to become future leaders.

Brand mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy and PR can also play impor­tant roles in help­ing Min­neso­ta man­u­fac­tur­ers dif­fer­en­ti­ate their busi­ness cul­tures and attract tal­ent from every cor­ner of the state. Estab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for being a great place to work – whether through award pro­grams, con­tent mar­ket­ing around com­pelling employ­ee sto­ries, pub­lic­i­ty for work­place perks, or social media rat­ings – can help man­u­fac­tur­ers appeal to the Mil­len­ni­al demo­graph­ic. Events, includ­ing job fairs, open hous­es and vis­i­bil­i­ty at promi­nent pub­lic cel­e­bra­tions (such as the Min­neso­ta State Fair) can also help large man­u­fac­tur­ers show­case their unique­ly attrac­tive qual­i­ties for prospec­tive hires. (Inter­est­ed in talk­ing more about com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gies for your busi­ness? Drop us a line at info@bellmontpartners.com.)

Oppor­tu­ni­ty abounds for Minnesota’s mak­ers. With the sup­port of the entire Min­neso­ta busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty and a clear, uni­fied plan for growth – guid­ed by a foun­da­tion­al brand and mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy – man­u­fac­tur­ers can tack­le the uncer­tain­ties of a tight labor mar­ket and reap the full ben­e­fits of an improv­ing economy.

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