How Minnesota’s manufacturing executives feel about the year ahead

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Manufacturing executives in Minnesota are optimistic about their revenue prospects in 2018, but they’re also concerned about a workforce shortage that remains a major hurdle for industries across the country.

“Our first quarter bookings are stronger than in 2016 and 2017,” said Sarah Richards, president and CEO of Jones Metal, a metal fabrication company in Mankato. “We also have some businesses that should be coming in the second and third quarters. So I think we’re going to see a growth here.”

Indeed, that positive outlook is widespread among business leaders in the industry — and it stems from the recent economic improvement the U.S. has seen, as well as the growing demand for construction and agricultural equipment.

Another reason that manufacturers are optimistic about 2018, said Bob Kill, president of Enterprise Minnesota, a consulting group focused on manufacturing, is because investors are pouring money into the industry as they see positive economic prospects ahead. “People are feeling energized,” Kill noted. “They feel pretty strong about their businesses. If you think about the mining industry, which has been down, is coming back pretty strong.”

Though more manufacturing executives in Minnesota may be optimistic about the industry’s prospect, their generally positive attitude towards the industry has been on an upward trajectory for several years now.

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