October is Manufacturing Month, and increasingly across Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley and Planet Earth, science and technology are the game changers.

Ask the local micro-molder. Its smallest molded part was 0.00004 grams and 1,025 units were produced from a single plastic pellet. P.S. 0.00004 grams is teeny-tiny. Their medical and pharmaceutical customers require products as small as salt grains, or smaller.

 Ask the local serial entrepreneur whose specialty is material science, resulting in the patented discoveries of disruptive and transformative technology platforms. In his words, customers demand products as light as air, as strong as steel, and . . . as cheap as dirt.

 Ask the local craft brewer who pushes the creativity envelope to produce blueberry pancake blonde ale, or French toast ale, or key lime pie beer. This is not your father’s Falstaff and taproom consumers cannot be fooled.

Ask the local startup doughnut maker who operates out of a mobile food truck and offers the likes of Butterfinger Bomb, Orange Dream and Captain Crunch doughnuts. Success is measured by the length of the food truck lines.

The examples go on and on. Realizing it or not, the micro-molder, material scientist, brewer, and doughnut maker are kindred spirits. They’re bound by the fact that they produce something. Yes, they’re all considered manufacturers in one form or another. 

Why the fuss about manufacturing and a monthlong celebration? Manufacturing helps make the world go around, it seems. It is exacting work, sometimes referred to as advanced manufacturing. This means closer tolerances, tighter formulations and precise outputs.

Manufacturing in Wisconsin makes a huge impact, to wit:

It is the largest contributor to the state’s economy;

It produces $63+ billion in total output, or 19% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP); 

It boasts 9,400+ incorporated companies;

It employs one in five workers or around 483,000+ associates across the state; and

Eighty-six percent of the state’s exports are manufactured goods.

Resources to support manufacturers are plentiful, starting with local school districts. Most introduced STEM or STEAM into the curriculum years ago. A tomato apiece, STEM or STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. An “A” was added to reflect the growing importance of art. Technical colleges and universities output graduates who are eager to learn and earn. Small business development centers (SBDCs) help counsel companies on topics like incorporating, marketing and financial literacy. Chambers, EDCs and state-federal agencies lend support, and some have financial resources and incentive programs. Together, the stage is assembled for manufacturing to grow and thrive.

Happy Manufacturing Month 2021. Here’s to the kindred spirits brought together by the definition of manufacturing. Here’s to exceptional careers in advanced manufacturing in the St. Croix Valley. Here’s to an outlandish beer or a devilish doughnut, consumed separately but produced by innovative manufacturers.

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