Manufacturing a source of possibility

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2022

By Jinny Rietmann

Executive Director Workforce Development, Inc.

There are many career possibilities that exist in manufacturing in the southeast Minnesota region.

The manufacturing sector in our part of the state is very diverse; it consists of small, family-owned production facilities with a handful of employees, as well as large multinational Fortune 500 companies with thousands of employees. According to a 2021 MN DEED data analysis, production manufacturing jobs are the third largest category of employment opportunities in Southeast Minnesota, behind only healthcare and office work.

If you haven’t been in a manufacturing facility recently, you might be surprised at the atmosphere and environment you’ll find in today’s production settings. A focus on safety and automation has ushered in a new era of occupations. Working in manufacturing today often means an opportunity to run a technical piece of equipment such as a CNC machine or laser cutter. Employers like Daiken in Faribault, Viracon in Owatonna, Design Ready Controls in Albert Lea and Rushford Manufacturing in Rushford offer these types of careers.

Southeast Minnesota also has many production opportunities in the Food and Bioscience industry. Manufacturers like Pace Dairy and Kerry in Rochester, Hormel Foods and Nu-Tek in Austin, and Balchem in Albert Lea offer opportunities that connect our agricultural history with the food and science needs of today. From creating plant-based peptones that feed lifesaving vaccines, to producing plant-based food to feed people, these manufacturers offer opportunity to be part of the next generation of Minnesotans that feed the world.

Manufacturers of all stripes are hiring a greater number of electricians and industrial maintenance mechanics required to keep all their equipment up and running. These positions often start at $25-$30 or more per hour with excellent benefits. Local colleges like Riverland, South Central College and Rochester Community and Technical College offer short-term trainings in fields like Industrial Maintenance, Mechatronics, and Welding that offer high placement rates in these fields. Many companies even offer tuition reimbursement for current employees that want to continue working while going back to school for one of these degrees. These pay-for programs are a great win-win for the employee and the company.

Southeast Minnesota is home to hundreds of manufacturers. The people working at these facilities create a myriad of products that we all rely on for daily life. The many supply chain issue shortages we experienced over the last few years highlight just how important these companies and the employees who create these products are to all of us. In honor of manufacturing month, take a moment to appreciate your local manufacturers who help keep our communities thriving.

Even better, consider applying to work for one.