WEDC: Manufacturing powers economic engine in Wisconsin

Contact: Tom Thieding, 608-210-6767 [email protected]

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Economic study says state and regions need to focus on driver industries for economic growth

MILWAUKEE, Wis. June 18, 2013 – Manufacturing continues to be the economic driver industry of Wisconsin and of regions in the state, according to the Wisconsin Economic Future Study released today by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. But the study encourages the state and regions to develop strategies that will further strengthen driver industries.

“To improve Wisconsin’s competitiveness compared to other states, we need to reinvest in productivity, workforce development and technology,” said Lee Swindall, vice president of business and industry development for WEDC. “There are many important sectors in Wisconsin, but the study showed that the manufacturing sector has the highest industry concentrations across the state and has had some of the highest growth over the last decade.”

The Economic Future Study, commissioned by WEDC, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Milwaukee 7, was conducted by the Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI). MPI and the Department of Commerce released the first study in 2005 to identify key manufacturing industries that drive economic growth statewide and within seven Wisconsin regions. This updated study analyzed all Wisconsin industries and compared Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness in 2011 to the results in the in 2005 study.

In the coming weeks, WEDC will be presenting the economic driver data to regional economic development organizations, and will be working with them to direct the development of investment strategies in the key economic drivers.

Understanding the industries that ‘drive’ the Wisconsin economy and how to better support those industries can help to improve the state’s economic performance,” said John Brandt, the study’s author with MPI. “The future study provides detailed information on how these industries compete, identifying both opportunities and challenges.”

According to the study, Wisconsin has 37 statewide driver industries, compared to 24 in 2005. Thirty-one of the 37 driver industries have been growing from 2008-2011. Regionally, there are anywhere from 12 to 41 driver industries identified in seven regions of the state.

Driver industries, according to the study, are defined as those that have concentrations that afford them a competitive advantage and, from an economic perspective, are relatively concentrated in a region and produce more goods than can be consumed locally, thereby bringing new monies back into the region, and, thus, driving regional economic growth.

Swindall said the driver industries identified in seven regions of the state represent the regions’ and Wisconsin’s economic future, not only for the driver industries themselves, but for the industry clusters they depend upon when purchasing inputs and selling outputs. He said each of these driver industries faces challenges and opportunities within regions that require a public-private collaboration to improve the potential for growth and global competitiveness.

“For Wisconsin to take advantage of economic opportunities and improve the state’s performance, public and private entities must focus on those industries that are most competitive and have the greatest potential for national and global prominence,” said Swindall. “This information will help state and regional leaders understand our economic drivers in order to engage strategies to leverage investment in sector growth, especially in the areas of workforce and innovation.”

The study assessed Wisconsin’s competitiveness by examining export, innovation, and workforce performances of Wisconsin’s driver industries compared to competitive states and the United States, and reviewed the state’s business climate and the challenges it poses for business and government. According to the study, Wisconsin can positively impact driver industries and the business climate in the state in four ways:

* Nurture driver industries, concentrating state and regional economic development efforts on strengthening driver industries and the industry clusters around them.

* Create an ongoing “Economic Future” structure that helps businesses foster and sustain improvement, despite internal and external changes that may occur.

* Address the real and perceived skills shortages in the state.

* Establish a legislative approach that examines policies affecting driver industries and industry clusters, identifying the programs that constituents can and will support, with the goal of developing a broad package that supports Wisconsin business.

The study showed that Wisconsin manufacturing’s gross state product is $51.3 billion. Wisconsin’s manufacturers employed more than 400,000 workers, carried payrolls of more than $21 billion, and spent more than $91 billon on materials and more than $4 billion on capital expenditures in 2011.

To request a copy of the report, go to

About Manufacturing Performance Institute

The MPI Group is composed of the Manufacturing Performance Institute, the Management Performance Institute, and the Marketing Performance Institute. These entities serve corporate leaders with research, advice, and performance-targeted solutions that provide a competitive advantage in today’s fierce global marketplace. MPI combines the disciplines of research, strategic advice, marketing, knowledge development, and hands-on leadership to create a difference — in performance, in profits, and in the people who make them possible

About Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.

About Milwaukee 7

The Milwaukee 7 provides a regional, cooperative economic development platform for the seven counties of southeastern Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. Its mission is to attract, retain and grow diverse businesses and talent. Together, these seven counties have a wealth of corporate headquarters, a pool of highly skilled workers and world-class amenities. Competing as a region broadens our range of choices and opportunities and gives us the competitive edge that we need, today, and into the future.

About Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP)

WMEP enhances the success of Wisconsin’s small to midsize manufacturers by providing expert and accessible services in the areas of growth and innovation, continuous improvement, training, export assistance, supply chain management and profitable sustainability. WMEP is a strong advocate for manufacturers in Wisconsin and supports Wisconsin manufacturing at a national level.