Wisconsin Manufacturing Now Envy Of Nation

MacIver News Service | March 2, 2017

By Bill Osmulski

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor Scott Walker broke out the shades once again on Wednesday for the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Business Day conference at Monona Terrace.

“Not too long ago at the economic forecast, I put on a pair of sunglasses because of that song, “the Future’s So Bright I’ve Got to Wear Shades.” Forget about all the rest of it, but that line alone is so important because it really describes what’s happening here in the State of Wisconsin,” Walker said in his speech.

Jay Timmons, National Association of Manufacturers President, told MacIver News Service that Wisconsin has good reason to be optimistic.

“You’ve tried to figure out what you can do to attract jobs to Wisconsin, and you’ve done a fantastic job in setting the environment for investment and job creation right here, thanks to the leadership of Governor Walker,” Timmons said.

Just the night before, President Donald Trump gave his first speech to a joint session of Congress, and on Wednesday stocks were surging to new records. Additional, every week seems to bring a new story about a big manufacturer deciding to stay in the US or to bring back production. Timmons said this is due to the belief that the tax and regulation climate in the US is about to radically change for the better.

“Manufacturers are extremely optimistic about the future as long as we get our policies right at the federal level, and for the first time in a long time we have partners who seem to want to do exactly that,” Timmons said.

Now states like Wisconsin are facing a problem they never could have dreamed about back in 2008, when the Great Recession started.

“There are 350 thousand jobs in manufacturing that are going unfilled today. The reason for that is because job in modern manufacturing are very technological, they’re focused on automation, on robotics, and we just don’t have the people with the skills that can do those jobs.”

“I’ve got to believe it’s true in other states, but my number one challenge is workforce. It’s workforce. When you have more people employed than ever before, one of your biggest challenges is what do you do to find the people needed to fill those positions. And not just the ones we have open right now, but even more so the ones we’re going to have open in the next three, four, five, six years. As the baby boom generation is at or near retirement, we’re going to have even greater challenges in manufacturing, construction, transportation, IT, healthcare, finance and accounting, you name it.”

Timmons says states across the country are looking to Wisconsin as an example of how to regain dominance in manufacturing.

“When I talk to manufacturers all across the country and I talk about the different states and what they’re doing, number one on the list is always Wisconsin in a very favorable way. You’ve got a great focus on taxes and regulation. But more important you have people who really care about manufacturing, who want to work in manufacturing, who want to be a part of the manufacturing workforce. It’s a really positive message you have. And I have to tell you, it’s spreading far and wide,” Timmons said.