Progress Lakeshore: Businesses see revenue growth through participation in the Lakeshore Industry Cluster Initiative

Businesses see revenue growth through participation in the Lakeshore Industry Cluster Initiative

MANITOWOC, Wis., March 13, 2015 – The Lakeshore Industry Cluster Initiative, a five-county collaborative chaired by Progress Lakeshore and the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation, has proven to be a business builder for many participating businesses. Progress Lakeshore coordinates the overall initiative with Kewaunee, Calumet, Sheboygan and Door Counties’ economic development organizations as well as several technical colleges and the New North.

Kevin Krueger and Andy Mleziva of KNM, LLC, a Manitowoc tool and die shop, have been participating in the manufacturing cluster for about a year. Krueger says the manufacturing cluster dynamic has provided a forum to introduce themselves, face to face, with businesses they’ve reached out to in other ways – unsuccessfully – in the past about potentially working together. “We don’t do a lot of marketing, so it’s been a good opportunity for people to see us, talk to us and learn what we have to offer and how we can help each other out,” said Krueger.

“The benefit is in the networking and connectivity,” added Mleziva. “We’ve heard a lot of, ‘We didn’t know you guys did that…’ ”

A survey completed by Progress Lakeshore’s cluster participants in January found that more than 80 percent said it’s been a revenue generator for their business. Of those participants completing surveys nearly 78 percent said it’s generated up to $50,000 in potential new revenue; another 22 percent said it has the potential to generate $50,000 to $100,000 in new revenue.

Progress Lakeshore – in partnership with the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation – has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Agency and matching funds from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to complete an in-depth study of the Manufacturing Supply Chain for companies in the five-county Lakeshore Region covered by the cluster.

The project analysis work which kicked off in January will be ongoing through September by Entreworks Consultants from Richmond, Virginia that have completed similar analyses across the U.S. and globally. The consultants will be seeking manufacturing companies’ participation to map out their suppliers and customers in order to better identify opportunities to expand and grow business.

“Now’s the time to join in and get involved with the manufacturing cluster and gain a better understanding of the value-supply chain opportunities that may exist for your business,” said Connie Loden, Senior Project Manager with The New North and former Executive Director of Progress Lakeshore. She describes the value-supply chain project as an opportunity to explore manufacturing’s opportunities to intersect with the other clusters and industries.

The five-county area of Wisconsin is one of the most manufacturing-intensive places in the U.S. with about 30 percent of all local workers employed in manufacturing. This is twice the rate of the state as a whole and 3.5 times higher than the U.S. average.

In addition to working collaboratively to understand other businesses’ supply chains, businesses participating in the value-supply chain analysis project also learn how their business’s capabilities might fit into other people’s supply chains. “Having an understanding of those supply chains helps businesses diversify their customer base and weather ups and downs in the industry better,” Loden added. “If you can understand how your supply chain fits across industries, it can give more stability to your total mix.”

“We’re really on the leading edge in this kind of analysis. We have actively involved businesses that want to be a part of it and are engaged in the process versus just a study. We’re hosting one-on-one interviews and creating opportunities for the relationship building and connections among businesses that you just don’t get from academic study,” she said. Specifically, information from the value-supply chain analysis will be compiled and shared with the whole cluster, but also analyzed so the cluster can help point their businesses to new opportunities.

To learn more about how getting involved in the value-supply chain project and/or the clusters can benefit your business, call 920.482.0540 or visit