Wisconsin Manufacturers See Expansion

MEP assistance generates a $226 million economic impact

Wisconsin manufacturers report that assistance they received from the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) in 2008 produced an economic impact of $226 million, most of it in sales growth and business expansion.

"This year's impact sends a strong message about the substantial gains that can be realized by manufacturers who invest in change and transformation," said Michael Klonsinski, executive director of WMEP, a non-profit organization that provides expertise and business assistance to help small and mid-size manufacturers grow and succeed.

WMEP-assisted companies reported:

  • $128 million in increased/retained sales
  • $16.9 million in cost savings
  • $81.3 million in investment, including new plant and equipment
  • 1,235 created/retained jobs

In addition, state tax revenues are projected to increase $11 million as a result of higher sales and job creation.

This year's survey data on business investment -- the highest ever reported at $81 million -- bodes well for future growth. "Many manufacturers are investing in new technology and expanding their plants to accommodate increased demand for products and services from customers here and around the globe," Klonsinski said. "That's good news not only for the manufacturers, but for their employees, communities and local economies." The investment impact includes expenditures on new plant and equipment, information systems and workforce practices.

In the past year, WMEP has significantly expanded its services to promote growth and innovation. Another core area of services -- lean manufacturing remains an essential strategy to promote efficiency, flexibility and lower costs for Wisconsin manufacturers.

Gary Lofquist, CEO of Pulaski-based MCL Industries Inc. says the company's lean journey has led to new business and improved performance throughout all areas of the company including finance, human resources, engineering and sales. "WMEP gave us the ability to look at manufacturing processes and problems with a different set of glasses," he said. The company used lean techniques to reduce lead times, which led to new business. "Our ability to perform in this new lead time environment resulted in significant new opportunities that are now the core of our future growth plans," Lofquist said. MCL, which specializes in the engineering and manufacture of electrical assemblies for heavy-duty and on- and off-road vehicles, has done more than 30 improvement projects with WMEP.

WMEP is an affiliate of NIST MEP, a national network of more than 60 centers that provide assistance to small and midsize manufacturers. During the past five years, WMEP-assisted manufacturers reported impact of $931 million with 8,635 jobs created/retained. WMEP provided services to 531 companies.

Manufacturing contributes $47.7 billion to Wisconsin's economy and employs nearly 500,000. In the past five years, manufacturing's contribution to Wisconsin's economy has grown $5.9 billion, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

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