By Buckley Brinkman, Executive Director & CEO, WMEP

It’s a critical time for Wisconsin and the state’s manufacturers. The improving economy and impending manufacturing surge will provide opportunities to solidify – or lose – Wisconsin’s leading manufacturing position. Collaboration and alignment of improvement efforts will be vital to take advantage of these favorable conditions.

The U.S. economy is strengthening and creating growth opportunities. Unemployment continues to decline and growth projections are strong for the country. Manufacturing is leading the way as the Manufacturing Index still sits strongly in the expansion range. Growth always provides opportunities and this time will be no different.

Wisconsin is in a great position to take advantage of these opportunities. We have diverse manufacturing operations spread throughout the state. Wisconsin leads the way in workforce development and putting together the broad-based initiatives necessary to secure a future workforce with all the necessary skills. Our leaders also understand the elements required for sustained growth and are moving to put them in place. Finally, we see bridges being built across the state, across industries, and across public and private sectors. Together we are putting the infrastructure in place for future growth.

Still – even though we are seeing growing cooperation – Wisconsin faces a critical time. We built huge momentum in our favor. That doesn’t happen often and no one can tell how long it will last. We need to take advantage of this momentum and these growth trends right now! Other regions are beginning to understand the economic driving ability of a strong manufacturing sector. National resources are being allocated in both the private and public sectors. Those resources are going to the most aligned regions.

Wisconsin needs coordinated growth strategies and resources aligned with those strategies to make the most of this moment. It’s critical to clearly identify our world-class, competitive clusters. Once we understand where those clusters lie, we can identify and support the value chains feeding those clusters. That provides the information necessary to develop support strategies and align resources to help those clusters and fuel economic growth.

There is neither the time nor the resources to fight amongst ourselves or duplicate efforts. There are many creative and effective initiatives in motion throughout the state. It’s time to connect those efforts in order to align resources and prevent duplication of effort. We can be the state that shows the rest of the country how to cooperate in order to get results and truly drive growth!

Making these moves will keep Wisconsin’s roll going and maintain our manufacturing leadership!