Last week, the Office of Governor Pete Ricketts announced that he would highlight October as Manufacturing Month in Nebraska during visits to manufacturing companies across the state.  The Governor is being joined by members of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry to tour manufacturing companies that have been contributing to the state’s standout growth across the sector.

“Each October we celebrate Manufacturing Month because it is Nebraska’s second largest industry, behind agriculture and ahead of tourism,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Throughout the month we will be celebrating our manufacturers, who are making world-class equipment and growing great job opportunities across our state.  To highlight manufacturing’s impact on our economy, the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and I will be visiting manufacturing plants in Hastings and Lyons this week.  Later this month, I will also address the Chamber’s annual manufacturing summit.”

Manufacturing is one of Nebraska’s fastest-growing industries.  From 2010-2015, the state added more than 11,000 manufacturing jobs, with an annual industry output of nearly $14 billion in products and equipment.  Manufacturing employment increased 4.5 percent year-over-year in July of this year — the biggest growth rate since August 1995.  It was the largest driver for the state’s 1.7 percent year-over-year job growth recorded the same month.

An estimated 1,600-plus manufacturing firms currently employ over 97,000 Nebraskans, including nearly 10 percent of the non-farm workforce.  The industry was one of the keys to the state’s back-to-back years of one-million-plus non-farm jobs in 2016 and 2017.

“Manufacturing is increasingly a high-skill, high-wage industry that is going to continue to produce great opportunities for the Nebraska workforce today and for the next generation,” said Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber.  “Manufacturing month is about recognizing those opportunities, while committing to laying a foundation for future growth.”

While experts say manufacturing will continue to be a high-potential growth sector for Nebraska, they emphasize the need to accommodate an increasing demand for highly-skilled, highly-trained manufacturing professionals.  In 2015, Governor Ricketts launched the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) to spearhead Nebraska’s workforce development across the manufacturing and information technology sectors.

Administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), DYTI provides grants that encourage and financially support partnerships between Nebraska manufacturing and IT firms and public school systems.  These partnerships result in educational curriculum designed to engage 7th and 8th grade students in manufacturing and IT exploration programs.  In doing so, students gain new knowledge about great career opportunities awaiting them in tomorrow’s manufacturing industry.

“We’re focused not only on recruiting the employers that will bring great jobs and high wages to our state,” said DED Director Dave Rippe, “but also preparing the next generation to reap the benefits of those jobs, and subsequently drive Nebraska’s economic growth by supporting a major industry.  To date, we’ve seen over 7,000 students across 23 school districts impacted by the DYTI program.  And those students are acquiring new knowledge and new perspectives on manufacturing, becoming more prepared for the tremendous career opportunities that await them.”

During his Manufacturing Month tour, the Governor will give special recognition to the manufacturing firms that have contributed to Nebraska’s back-to-back wins of Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup.  Nebraska received the award for achieving the most economic development projects per capita in the nation in 2016 and 2017.  Kawasaki, Smeal Fire Apparatus, Becton Dickinson, Brehmer Manufacturing, Agri-Plastics, and Worldlawn Power Equipment are a few of the dozens of companies that have invested in Nebraska over the past year, contributing to the Governor’s Cup victory.