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Manufacturing Growth in Wisconsin and the FACT Initiative

When it comes to employment in Wisconsin, the manufacturing sector in particular has been making gains over the last few years. From July 2012 to July 2013 alone, 3,010 manufacturing jobs were created. There are now a total of 574,091 workers in 11,208 manufacturing companies across the state, according to the 2013 Wisconsin Manufacturers Register. Not only is this growth continuing but is expected to continue in this way for some time. According to the president of Manufacturer’s News, Tom Dubin, this is because the state has an educated workforce, low business costs, and has a prime location for goods shipment. These factors are appealing to companies that have been investing in the food processing industry in particular.

One region where the manufacturing industry is especially making an impact is in Southeastern Wisconsin. One such example is a site outside of Somers, WI, which covers 300 acres and 5 Million square feet, that will potentially house an Amazon, Inc. center. Kenosha will also be seeing a boom in economic activity as a company whose name has not been revealed plans to build a new manufacturing and distribution center there. The center would occupy over 1 million square feet, and would create hundreds of jobs in the area.

As the industry continues to bloom throughout Wisconsin, workers and manufacturers alike will reap the benefits of this success. Such growth, however, may mean that manufacturers will have a hard time finding skilled workers as the demand continues to climb. Some companies have turned to recruiters to them help find qualified employees with specific training backgrounds and skills. Another enterprise that aims to develop a pool of qualified manufacturing workers in Wisconsin called FACT was recently launched by the Moraine Park Foundation.

FACT, which stands for Forming Alliances to Cultivate Talent, provides incentives for students to enroll full-time in manufacturing-related programs. It also offers performance-based rewards to encourage completion of degrees in these fields. The program is funded by local gifts, corporate donors and foundation support. Students and area businesses alike receive the benefits produced by FACT. Financial assistance for students as well as networking and hands-on training with area companies allows for easier transitions into the workplace. Conversely, these hiring companies have access to larger numbers of specifically trained and highly skilled students and graduates in varying fields of expertise.

Having a surplus of jobs available in manufacturing isn’t the worst problem a state can have, especially after coming out of a recent recession; and the FACT initiative provides a collaborative solution to this unique situation. In that way, Wisconsin can look forward to the continued development of the manufacturing industry and accompanying workforce.