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Economic Outlook

Manufacturing Day Blog

October 24, 2018 (Updated: 11:35 AM)
Author Jeff Rea

About Jeff

Jeff Rea is currently the President & CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jeff has over 20 years of executive leadership experience in our region while working in areas such as Economic Development, Business Development, City Planning, Marketing, and Local Government. Jeff has a degree from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC and executive management continuing education work at the University of Notre Dame.

Welcome to our show and to my weekly blog where I give you a sneak peek into this week’s show. If this is your first time, thank you for joining us. If you are a regular, thank you for your loyal support. We are working hard to keep on top of key issues impacting our local economy, and believe we have a good one for you this week. In our region, about one out of every 4 people work in Manufacturing. More people work in Manufacturing than in any other industry. Elkhart County leads the way, with more than 40% of its workers in the field, but you can see from the accompanying chart it’s a critical part of the economy in each county.

  Total Manufacturing Employment Total Employment % of Total County Workforce
Elkhart County, IN 64,235 155,889 41.2%
Kosciusko County, IN 14,803 48,800 30.3%
Marshall County, IN 7,521 25,384 29.6%
Cass County, MI 6,313 22,746 27.8%
Berrien County, MI 13,767 69,448 19.8%
LaPorte County, IN 7,650 53,386 14.3%
St. Joseph County, IN 15,784 160,706 9.8%
Total 130,073 536,359 24.25%
Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2016 (Stats Indiana and DATA USA)

The economy is going strong, unemployment is low, employment high, and wages are growing. Manufacturers, like many employers can’t find all the help they currently need and also worry about where they’ll find their future workers. The median age of manufacturing workers is 44.5 years old. With that number trending older, employers are looking closely at how to connect the next generation of workers to future opportunities in the industry.

In early October, most of the communities in our region hosted a Manufacturing Day event, inviting students to leave the classroom and see firsthand what today’s manufacturing jobs look like. While there, students also got to hear directly from employees about their career path and necessary training.

Manufacturing Day aims to address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. Manufacturers hope that by working together during and after MFG DAY, they can begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

On the show, we took a closer look at Manufacturing Day programs in each of our communities and talked about why programs like Manufacturing Day are so important. Our guests included John Axelberg, the President & CEO of General Stamping and Metalworks in South Bend, Kate Lee from the South Bend Regional Chamber, and Len Amat from Centier Bank.

To learn a little more about Manufacturing day across the Country, I encourage you to visit the Manufacturing Day website. For more details on what happened here locally, visit the following links. Elkhart County, Marshall County, Kosciusko County, Berrien County, Cass County, and St. Joseph County, IN.

I hope you enjoy the show!

Remember, you can connect with us a variety of ways. Feel free to email me at jrea@sbrchamber.com; follow me on Twitter at @Jeff_Rea, follow the station on Twitter @wnitpublictv, or like us on Facebook.

One final reminder, you can catch the show Tuesday’s at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday’s at 12:30 p.m. on WNIT. You also can catch your favorite episodes anytime at https://www.wnit.org/economicoutlook/ .