How to Host a Minnesota Manufacturing Week Event to Promote the Industry and Workforce Development

How to Host a Minnesota Manufacturing Week Event to Promote the Industry and Workforce Development Main Photo

9 Sep 2022


Minnesota Manufacturing Week is recognized annually during the first week in October to coincide with National Manufacturing Month. It’s an excellent time for Benton County, Minnesota, manufacturers to promote innovations, goodwill, and workforce development by showing the community exactly what they do. You can take the opportunity to dispel outdated myths about manufacturing and connect with students to encourage employment interest.

There are comprehensive resources available from the Minnesota State Advance Manufacturing Center of Excellence to help guide you through every step of planning a Manufacturing Month event. You can even register your tour or open house at Minnesota Statewide Tour of Manufacturing so it can be easily found.

Why Benton County Manufacturers Should Host a Manufacturing Week Event

Manufacturing’s importance in Benton County and throughout Minnesota is due to the sector’s stability and growth. In fact, manufacturing accounts for 13.55 percent of the total output in the state, employing 11.36 percent of the workforce with 310,000 employees in 2020 (average annual compensation of $80,899.60 in 2019). Total output from manufacturing was $52.01 billion in 2019, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The export of manufacturing goods from Minnesota totaled $18.84 billion in 2020, creating jobs and economic opportunities for the state.

Manufacturing is Benton County’s second largest industry employing over 17,400 workers. By opening your doors to the public, you can change the perception of manufacturing jobs and start building the next generation of workers. Most recent data (from 2018 since the pandemic disrupted in-person events for several years) shows the impact Manufacturing Week events have in Minnesota:

  • 28,080 estimated individuals attended a tour.
  • 10,521 K-12 students attended a tour.
  • 209 manufacturers hosted a tour.

Tour attendees developed interest and awareness of manufacturing careers:

  • 76% were interested in manufacturing careers.
  • 88% were more aware of manufacturing careers.
  • 85% were more interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

When a company organizes a Manufacturing Week event, they are taking a novel approach to workforce development. As manufacturers seek to fill high-skill, high-tech, and high-paying jobs over the next decade, Manufacturing Week empowers employers to address the challenges of finding qualified workers while helping their communities and future generations thrive.

Minnesota State Advance Manufacturing Center of Excellence Resources

Explore the resources offered by the Minnesota State Advance Manufacturing Center of Excellence here. Materials include:

  • Host Tool Kit — Step-by-step guide for the organization of an event
  • Manufacturer Tour Guide — Outline of best practices and tips for a successful tour
  • Manufacturer Virtual Tour Guide — Outline of information and tips for a virtual tour
  • Community Tour Guide — Step-by-step outline to create a tour for the public
  • Teacher Guide — 80-page curriculum resource for teachers of grades 6-12 to help their students get the most out of a tour or open house
  • Templates — For press releases, radio ads, and parent letters

Starting Point for Hosting a Manufacturing Week Event in October

The goal should be to establish a connection with your guests to communicate the importance of what you do. A little forethought and planning go a long way. 

Decide on Your Audience

Do you want to focus on middle or high school students to introduce them to career opportunities or reach out to local officials to show them your successes and needs? Of course, you can do both! And don’t forget about the media. You just need to keep your audience in mind when planning your event. Benton Economic Partnership can help you connect with your desired audience. It’s important to send out invitations as soon as possible.

Choose Your Event

Plant tours form the backbone of Manufacturing Week. By opening your doors to the community and showcasing operations, you can generate enthusiasm for your company and the manufacturing industry, as well as show ways for future involvement from your visitors. Job shadowing for students is also a solid option.

Virtual tours and webinars are other popular options since the world has become acclimated to the structure of online events over the past couple of years. 

Another option is participating in an off-site expo, job fair, or classroom presentation. Benton Economic Partnership can help connect you with partners.

Register Your Event

Register your event with the Minnesota State Advance Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Tours occur throughout October, but most tours happen during Minnesota Manufacturing Week, the first week of October.

Plan Your Presentation

Don’t assume your visitors know anything about manufacturing. You should start by creating a company story that anyone can understand, free of industry jargon. Of course, you can’t let visitors near the machinery, but you could create a display illustrating what a product looks like in various stages of completion and offer a hands-on experience where they could hold something they’ve seen made. 

If your audience is students, cater to them! Students are the workforce of the future. Use your event as an opportunity to provide information about the variety of careers your company offers and, importantly, the types of training and completed educational coursework you seek when hiring. If there are specific kinds of training or skills that you need and find it hard to hire for, let them know.

Put Out the Welcome Mat

When your event is planned and your invitations are sent, start the work to put your best foot forward. First impressions count. If you are hosting a plant tour, what does your facility look like from the parking lot? Consider putting up a welcome sign. Remember, the goal is to enlighten your guests about how great it is to work at a manufacturing facility. Make sure there is no clutter, everything is in its place, floors are swept clean, and a path through the shop is easy to follow.

If you are participating in an expo or job fair, ensure your representatives have name tags and are ready to engage with the public. Consider promotional items to give away.

Additional Resources

The Manufacturing Institute also has a toolkit to help with planning tours, sending invitations, and developing promotions.

Benton Economic Partnership eases the process for manufacturers to find a site, obtain permits, construct a facility, and hire and train a workforce. We understand development and can assist in the entire process. Contact us to learn more at 320-968-6197 or email us here.

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