Manufacturing Connection February Newsletter
A Letter from the Director
Rural Manufacturing in LouisianaManufacturing investment and wages are one of the top tier components of the Louisiana economy, especially in our rural communities. Per data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-typology-codes/descriptions-and-maps.aspx#manufacturing), 8 of the 64 parishes are classified as manufacturing-dependent. Three of these parishes are rural parishes and five are considered to be located in metro areas. While the limited number of manufacturing-dependent parishes denote a solid economic diversification metric, the low concentration of manufacturing in areas of our state can lead to a limited understanding of the economic impact and employment benefits derived from manufacturing. I have experienced this first hand in Natchitoches Parish where I have lived and worked with manufacturing for 30 years. Natchitoches Parish is one of the eight manufacturing-dependent parishes and there remains a limited awareness of the existing manufacturers, available roles, the needed skill sets to excel in these roles and salary opportunities.A blog written by NIST-MEP posted on the MEP of Louisiana blog (http://mepol.org/blog/geography-manufacturing-case-mep-rural-manufacturers) highlighted a recent analysis of MEP Center’s rural manufacturing clients. While median earnings for manufacturing are generally the top or second largest in rural parishes, the results from this analysis concluded multiple challenges, including employee recruitment. As the MEP of Louisiana team meets with manufacturers throughout Louisiana and conducts current state assessments, employee recruitment and available skilled resources are a top need for most manufacturers.I am pleased to see the response from our business and community leaders and community colleges in Louisiana responding to this limited skill talent need and bringing awareness to the manufacturing that exists in our local communities. K-12 students are getting solid engagement, exposure, and tours of manufacturing operations and roles through Manufacturing Day (a yearly event held the first week of October) in Natchitoches Parish, with the work of Northwest and Central Louisiana Manufacturing Managers Councils, coupled with the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the Rapides Foundation and many manufacturers in the state.Public and private investment as a result of Advancing Centers of Technology (ACT) 360 (http://act360.csrsonline.com/) in our local community colleges has provided up-to-date classroom facilities throughout the state. Governor John Bel Edwards proclaimed February as Rural Outreach Assistance Month for small businesses, including manufacturers, in Louisiana (https://www.lsbdc.org/blog/?p=2873). In addition, Governor John Bel Edwards and Dr. Monty Sullivan, President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, announced providing $500 – $1,000 scholarships to graduating Future Farmer of America high school students that enroll in a Louisiana community college (http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/1154). A $4 million investment by Rapides Foundation and Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) is focused on expanding manufacturing training (http://www.kalb.com/content/news/CLTCC-gets-4-million-to-build-education-center-462134923.html).In addition, manufacturers, educators, community leaders and economic developers in Central and Northwest Louisiana pulled together to address these limited skill resources in the area. Using benchmarking techniques developed by the Toyota skilled maintenance programs in Kentucky and Texas, this group of manufacturing, community and education leaders developed the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program highlighted in the MEP blog found at this link (http://mepol.org/article/louisiana-advanced-manufacturing-federation-advanced-manufacturing-education). It takes all of these partnerships focused on the workforce and economic development needs of our manufacturers to develop a strategy and vision to positively impact our businesses and state. With this focus, rural manufacturing training needs will be addressed!To learn more about the MEP of Louisiana, please visit http://mepol.org. If you have a need and would like to visit with our MEP of Louisiana team, please connect here or call us at 337-482-6767.Mike Wolff, DirectorContinue reading the Manufacturing Connection February Newsletter here.
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