Archive for the ‘Manufacturing’ Category


Celebrating Manufacturing Day in Pella, Iowa

October 12, 2016
Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Guest blog post by Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Throughout the year nearly 3,000 Vermeer team members work diligently to build impressive equipment that serves ten different markets. Our engineering team works hard to concept and design equipment; our manufacturing team machines, welds, paints and assembles the tough equipment we sell. Our support teams procure parts, integrate technology solutions, market the equipment and build relationships with customers and dealers on six continents. In order to experience ongoing success as a growing global company, we must continue to recruit, develop and build teams that can keep pace with our customer needs.

Numbers prove that a STEM-skilled workforce is essential to the future of manufacturing and our world. Every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the US economy, and every 100 jobs in a manufacturing facility create an additional 250 jobs in other sectors. Yet 80 percent of manufacturers report difficulty in finding skilled workers. Manufacturing clearly has an impact on the nation’s economy. So the skills gap we are facing in our industry has to be addressed in order to achieve a healthy workforce, and is sure to be reflective of the significant need throughout the nation.

Our annual Manufacturing Day event at the Vermeer headquarters in Pella, Iowa has proven to have some of the most positive, immediate results in shifting the manufacturing perception. We invite local middle and high school students inside our doors and break down the myth that manufacturing means a dirty job.

Through hands-on activities and plant tours, students get to dig into all the facets of manufacturing. Paint and weld simulators offer an opportunity to try it out. 3D printing, digital assembly and robotics activities show students manufacturing isn’t an outdated assembly line, but rather a smartly progressive field maximizing science and technology. Finance and marketing activities have students calculate exchange rates and see that manufacturing isn’t limited to a factory, but instead is connected around the globe.

We’re once again preparing to give students an up-close look at what manufacturing is all about. Why? Students, and their influencers, want it. An Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council survey shows that 94 percent of Iowans think STEM education should be a priority in their local school districts. Our Manufacturing Day experience reflects that. Attendance jumped from 100 students to 700+ in just three years.

We also make it a point to survey the students before and after their visit, and are very motivated by the results: The percentage of students who felt they understood what manufacturing is, jumped from 57 percent before Manufacturing Day to 97 percent after, and those who want to work in manufacturing someday jumped from 34 percent to 69 percent. With the majority of students saying that personal experience directs them down a particular career path, we want Manufacturing Day to be one experience that launches them on a STEM journey toward manufacturing!

The future is bright for Vermeer, and when we open on our doors on October 14 for Manufacturing Day, we stand with pride to be a manufacturer and future employer to some of these students who will leave inspired to pursue a career in manufacturing.


Manufacturing Day 2016: A Resounding Success

October 11, 2016

Evan Caplan is the Deputy Director for Public Affairs.

Along with thousands of businesses, schools, students, educators, and parents the International Trade Administration (ITA) celebrated the fifth annual Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 7. Across the country, events showcased how manufacturing has become innovative, inventive, and exciting, and the incredible potential in the future of manufacturing. Manufacturing Day, which the Department of Commerce leads, is an annual national event executed at the local level and supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host open houses, plant tours, and presentations designed to display modern manufacturing technology and careers to students and future employees.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, Laura Taylor-Kale, visited Wolfspeed for Manufacturing Day.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, Laura Taylor-Kale, visited Wolfspeed for Manufacturing Day.

On Thursday and Friday, the Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Portland, Oregon at a Makers Gone Pro Event, where she spoke to recent high school graduates pursuing technical careers, and joined 100 students at the Lam Research Facility, the world’s second largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer.

Around the country, other Commerce leaders toured some of America’s most innovative manufacturing facilities.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis at ITA Ted Dean went to Chicago to visit the Freedman Seating Company, which creates seating and other products for bus, rail, marine, delivery truck, specialty and commercial vehicles. He received a tour and spoke with students and young professionals from the Young Manufacturers Association. He then went to Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, or DMDII. There, he participated in a roundtable discussion with local and community leaders focusing on workforce development and the growing digitization of manufacturing.

“Seven years ago, nobody could have predicted the manufacturing resurgence we have seen” he said. “The job numbers alone speak volumes.  There are 828,000 more Americans working in manufacturing than there were 6 years ago.”

Regarding digital technologies, he said that “they now drive at least 5 percent of our national GDP, and the Internet’s impact extends far beyond our borders. In the developed markets of the G-20, the digital economy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent over the next five years – outpacing just about every other traditional sector.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials Felicia Pullam visited RMI’s On the Road to Manufacturing 4.0 and Beyond Under Armour Lighthouse, a brand-new space in Baltimore making innovative advances in athletic products.

ITA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing Laura Taylor-Kale visited PowerAmerica, which creates energy-efficient power devices for a range of industries, like electric vehicles, industrial motors, solar and wind farms, and data centers. She toured the Wolfspeed Semiconductor Foundry, the Phononic Manufacturing Line, and the Windlift Production Facility. At each of these, she spoke to industry partners about the importance of their work. Later, she also spoke on a roundtable with students on the sustainability of manufacturing. The day ended at a Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster event with PowerAmerica, where she was a featured guest in the proceedings. “I am proud to be part of this incredible event,” she said. “Manufacturing Day is a great occasion to celebrate local industry and stoke community pride.”

Executive Director of SelectUSA, Vinai Thummalapally, visited K-Form and Nova Labs for Manufacturing day 2016.

Executive Director of SelectUSA, Vinai Thummalapally, visited K-Form and Nova Labs for Manufacturing Day 2016! #MFGDAY2016

SelectUSA Executive Director Vinay Thummalapally visited K-Form, which develops and manufactures technical products specializing in high-performance enclosures, and Nova Labs, an innovative, membership-driven, all-volunteer makerspace based in Reston, Virginia that was founded in 2011 with the purpose of empowering everyone to “Rediscover the Joy of Making Things!” They hosted local schools, educators, and community members.

Through initiatives like Manufacturing Day and others, the Department of Commerce helps create the conditions for a skilled workforce, opens new markets for American goods, and drives innovation which ultimately keeps America  Open for Business.


Help us Celebrate Manufacturing Day!

September 29, 2016

 Laura Taylor-Kale is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing 

Next Friday, October 7, manufacturers from across the country will open their doors to showcase exciting careers possibilities as part of this year’s Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY). The Department of Commerce and our partners at the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, the Manufacturing Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers have seen tremendous excitement and growth since the first celebration in 2012. Last year, more than 400,000 people attended 2,400 events nationwide.  Many of these events give students an opportunity to take a practical (and fun!) first step toward manufacturing careers and to see what modern manufacturing looks like.

As ITA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing, I know that U.S. manufacturers are key contributors to the U.S. economy at home and abroad. A recent ITA report showed that total U.S. exports support more than a quarter of U.S. manufacturing industry employment and that the industries with the highest share of employment supported by exports are all manufacturing industries.  The International Trade Administration helps U.S. companies take advantage of export opportunities by providing timely market intelligence, such as our Top Markets Report Series, and access to a broad spectrum of federal programs that can help manufacturers succeed in the international marketplace. Information on these programs can be found on our websites and

So join me, my ITA colleagues, and our industry partners on October 7 to celebrate American manufacturing and its impact on our local communities and the global economy.  We encourage you to spread the message about Manufacturing Day and join the conversation on social media using #MFGDay16.  We hope you will join us in this effort!



Participation in Hannover Messe is Critical to Team South Carolina

April 6, 2016

W. Ford Graham is Director of the Department of Commerce’s Division of International Strategy and Trade  in South Carolina

While South Carolina boasts a rich history in manufacturing, its position as a leader in the manufacturing renaissance can really be attributed to a significant transformation of the state’s economy. At one time, South Carolina was known primarily as a textile state. While a thriving textile industry still exists, the manufacturing of advanced products and materials has shifted South Carolina’s economy into high gear.

Illustrating this is the state’s rapid manufacturing job growth. In fact, since 2010, manufacturing employment has increased by more than 13 percent in the Palmetto State, a figure which leads the Southeast. And, last year alone, more than 9,680 new manufacturing jobs were recruited to South Carolina, accounting for more than half of all new jobs brought to the state.

As a result of this manufacturing success, South Carolina continues to set records with its annual export sales totals. In 2015, the state’s total export sales topped $30 billion, setting a record for the sixth consecutive year. Fueling this international trade growth are South Carolina’s burgeoning aerospace and automotive industry sectors. Last year, the Palmetto State enjoyed a more than 176 percent increase in the export sales of aircraft, while also remaining the nation’s top exporter of both completed passenger motor vehicles and tires.

To build on this economic momentum, Team South Carolina recognizes the importance of further developing relationships with industry leaders from all corners of the globe. In fact, the state’s economic development strategy is similar to that of any good sales organization. We go where the customers are and build relationships to do what we do – which is sell South Carolina.

That’s why participation in Hannover Messe is so critical to the Palmetto State. More than just a spectacle for the planet’s top names in manufacturing, the five-day exhibition provides a great setting for economic developers from all over the world to meet and strengthen relationships with a variety of industry leaders.

In addition to promoting our state for foreign investment projects and helping South Carolina businesses reach international markets, the event also allows our delegation to learn about the latest innovations within industry. As a state that aims to be on the cutting edge, the ability to provide our firms exposure to the latest and greatest is paramount.

As Team South Carolina continues to strengthen relationships with global industry leaders, the Palmetto State’s reputation as a state that’s ‘Just right’ for business will continue to advance around the world, resulting in a prosperous, high-flying economy for many years to come.



Building the Next Generation Manufacturers

April 4, 2016

By Dana Smith, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel assigned to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Secretary and is serving as the Senior Policy Advisor for National Manufacturing Policy

A few weeks ago, the Catalyst Connection, a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hosted an event at Heinz Field with manufacturers, industry leaders, students, teachers, and parents to announce the winners of its annual Explore the New Manufacturing Student Video Contest.

The Explore the New Manufacturing Program is an opportunity for young students to explore exciting career opportunities in the manufacturing industry. The program addresses the need for a skilled workforce within the industry while engaging local manufacturing companies with education.

Like many of the other student video contests conducted by the MEP Centers and the Dream It. Do It. networks in other states, the video contest paired student teams from 10 middle schools with local manufacturers. Each team was asked to tell the story “what makes manufacturing cool?” and the teams did not disappoint, as you can see from the winners.

Award winners were as follows: Best Manufacturing Message; Avonworth & ARDEX Engineered Cements, Most Creative; Burrell & TMG Electronics, People’s Choice; Avonworth & ARDEX Engineered Cements, and Best Marketing Plan; Mount Lebanon & Caterpillar

Beyond the student’s enthusiasm for the contest, it was great to see manufacturers working together with educators to address their future workforce challenges. According to the Manufacturing Institute, the manufacturing sector’s consistent expansion and aging demographic will lead to 3.4 million available manufacturing jobs by 2025, but only 1.4 million will be filled. That’s a lot of opportunities for those that seek out advanced manufacturing careers!

The challenge is obvious: there is a prevailing perception outside the manufacturing sector that manufacturing jobs are dirty, dangerous, low paying, and best left to someone else. Events like this competition and National Manufacturing Day are changing that perception across the country. The reality is manufacturing in the United States is evolving from the manufacturing jobs of yesterday into the manufacturing careers of tomorrow. Innovation is driving this change and manufacturers are continuously seeking out people with ever increasing technical skills to solve difficult and challenging manufacturing problems.

The proof that these perceptions are changing was easy to identify on the faces of the middle school students participating in the competition. They have now been to the factory floor, experienced firsthand what manufacturing is really like, and discovered it was nothing like what they imagined. They were beaming with excitement as they realized the potential of an advanced manufacturing career.  Manufacturing Day’s inaugural perception study conducted by Deloitte also confirms the power of firsthand experience in changing parents, educators, and students minds about manufacturing and the rewarding careers available.

The Manufacturing Institute did a good job quantifying the challenge facing manufacturers, but it is up to local communities to do something about it. Manufacturers have to communicate their future skills requirements to educators; educators have to build curriculums and recruit students; and students have to have an interest and positive perception about the opportunity. Communities like Pittsburgh that can coalesce around this simple concept will be ready for 2025.

The year 2025 seems distant and way too far in the future for today’s middle school students to contemplate. They may not fully realize it yet, but they are literally the new employees of the 2025 workforce. And there will be millions of jobs available to them in manufacturing. Now is the time to engage their perceptions so they can make informed decisions about their future. Take part in this year’s 5th Annual Manufacturing Day on October 7 and learn more on how to get involved here.



Wisconsin Trade Delegation to Advance Business Relationships at Hannover Messe

February 18, 2016

Katy Sinnott, Vice President, International Business Development, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

 As the world’s largest industrial trade show, Hannover Messe offers an attractive opportunity for Wisconsin companies to build upon a strong foundation of bilateral trade between our state and Germany. For this reason, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is hosting a trade venture to Germany to correspond with Hannover Messe 2016.

Show floor

The world’s leading show for industrial technology highlights innovations and groundbreaking solutions in all the core sectors – i.e. industrial automation and IT, energy and environmental technology, industrial supply, production engineering and services, as well as research and development.

WEDC’s German trade venture recognizes and leverages the powerful cultural and business relationship between Wisconsin and Germany, our sixth largest export destination. During the first three quarters of 2015, $539 million worth of Wisconsin goods were shipped to Germany. In that same period, Wisconsin directly imported $942 million worth of German products.

With the United States serving as an official partner at this year’s event, we will take advantage of the increased visibility of the U.S.A. pavilion affords us to promote our global manufacturing leadership. Industry representatives and business leaders that comprise our delegation will help draw attention to Wisconsin’s innovative technologies, reliable and adaptable supply chain, production quality, sustainable practices and specialized materials capabilities. We will also showcase Wisconsin’s unique industry strengths in bioscience; water technology; energy, power and control; and aerospace manufacturing.

Nate Leiteritz, General Manager of Automation at Miller Electric Mfg. Co., looks forward to the trade venture, specifically the audience that Hannover Messe will provide for his company’s message. “Miller is excited to participate in the Hannover Messe Fair as part of the U.S. and Wisconsin trade delegations to demonstrate how our automated welding equipment and Insight Centerpoint™ software offer exclusive features to enable Germany’s implementation of the current industrial revolution, known as Industrie 4.0,” said Leiteritz. Miller Electric Mfg. Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works (NYSE: ITW), manufactures arc welding and cutting equipment for manufacturing, construction, aviation, and other applications.

Other companies participating in Wisconsin’s delegation include the following:

 American Exchange Services, Inc.—designer and fabricator for large heat transfer equipment used in power generation, process, and pulp and paper industries.

Eagle Technology, Inc.—developer and marketer of software and consulting services for building maintenance and tracking of assets, maintenance activity, schedules, personnel, and inventory.

Gaskets, Inc.manufacturer of high performance seals/gaskets, expansion joints and safety clothing material.

Matthews International DBA Lightning Pickmanufacturer of automated pick-to-light, put-to-light, pack-to-light, batch picking carts, and other paperless picking, kitting, assembly and sortation systems.

Pivot Point Inc.—manufacturer of patented and non-patented non-threaded fastening solutions, including clevis Pins, cotter Pins, quick release pins, wire rope lanyards, and others.

Additional firms are expected to join the Wisconsin delegation.

To learn more about Wisconsin’s manufacturing capabilities and the delegation we will be bringing to German in April, please feel free to contact me.


Katy Sinnott
Vice President, International Business Development
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation


Manufacturing Relies on the Strengths of American Communities

December 16, 2015

This article originally appeared in the White House Blog. Guest blog post by Jason Miller, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council at the White House. 

Today, five years after we pulled our economy back from the brink of collapse, the heartbeat of American manufacturing continues to usher new products and new innovations to the marketplace — driving investments in new technologies that can provide the foundation for future U.S. leadership. In communities across the country, manufacturing firms are again growing and hiring, something thought impossible only a short while ago. Since February 2010, 865,000 new manufacturing jobs have been added – the first sustained job growth in the sector since the 1990s. And new manufacturing establishments have risen in the past two years, as manufacturing entrepreneurship unlocks new opportunities. We need to build on this progress, and we have a long way to go.


Manufacturing Relies on the Strengths of American Communities

Manufacturing, by definition, is local. We know the strength of America’s competitive edge lays in the talent and resilience of communities, where cutting edge factory floor production takes place, and where strategies for growing the next generation of American manufacturers take root. To help communities compete globally for manufacturing jobs and investment, the President launched the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) – an initiative aimed offering national support for local manufacturing talent and economic development strategies being enacted by communities. By leveraging an arsenal of federal tools, IMCP strengthens the competitive edge of manufacturing communities — attracting global firms to locate their production in these communities, and improve the capacity of small manufacturers which power our domestic supply chains.

Despite early progress, we know that there is much more work to do to help communities rebuild and grow their local manufacturing capabilities to spur continued production and innovation. The Department of Commerce and the White House brought together 11 federal agencies with over $1 billion in economic development funding, and more than 300 community leaders from across the country for the second annual IMCP Summit – to share best practices amongst the IMCP communities to continue their investments in targeted manufacturing sectors. The Summit not only convened the 24 communities with official IMCP designations, but also community leaders, industry executives, economic development officers, and towns across the country who, IMCP designation or not, are actively committed to nurturing local manufacturing growth, and positioning the sector’s health as central to their regional economic growth strategies. These communities are stepping up and aligning local resources to make themselves beacons for investment, positioning last week’s Summit as the ideal forum to disseminate best practices for additional growth, and identify ways the Obama Administration could continuing supporting local plans for success.

The Tennessee Valley, for example, leveraged federal programs to build upon the region’s robust investment in workforce development, and facilities upgrades — strengthening the case for attracting manufacturers to set up shop in the region. That in turn spurred investment confidence among companies like DENSO, a global auto parts supplier, to invest $400 million in expanding an electronics manufacturing warehouse facility and add 500 new, high-paying jobs to the Valley.

A similar opportunity was realized in Southeast Michigan, another IMCP designee, which marshalled $32.5 million in public and private resources, allowing Magneti Marelli, another global auto parts supplier, to expand factory facilities in the Detroit region. By coupling federal tools and programs, to complement already robust local strategies that leverage the dynamism of local talent, communities like Southeast Michigan are accelerating growth for small and medium sized firms.

And that momentum is being realized in towns across the country. The Finger Lakes Region of New York attracted $34.8 million in investment to usher 1,000 jobs to Rochester, NY in photovoltaic manufacturing; and Cincinnati, OH has expanded workforce training programs to bring online nearly 8,000 manufacturing jobs in the last two years. The second round of IMCP communities, designated in 2015, is also attracting investment from private sources based on the strength of their comprehensive economic development plans. In August, the pharmaceutical and biosciences enterprise GlaxoSmithKline — which had announced plans four years ago to sell off its manufacturing plant and leave Memphis — instead announced plans instead to invest another $2 million to upgrade the infrastructure & equipment at its operation there, supporting nearly 300 jobs.

These designated Manufacturing Communities demonstrate how a well-integrated manufacturing sector is critical to America’s continued growth and prosperity. The Summit underscored the need to continue making these vital investments, not just to arm communities with the tools necessary to win the future, but also to seed ensure private sector research and development takes root right here, on U.S. soil.

That’s why since day one President Obama has been committed, through initiatives like the IMCP, to reverse the decline of the previous decade that harmed too many communities across the country. And now, these communities are coming back, once again making the case that the United States is the best place in the world for investment. If we stay focused on winning this race, and make smart, responsible federal and local investments, we can help ensure the next revolution in manufacturing is an American revolution.

Editor’s Note: MEP centers are partners in 23 of the 24 communities designated to-date.