Minnesota Manufacturers Express Boundless Optimism About the Future

Minnesota’s small- and medium-sized manufacturers are incredibly optimistic about the prospects of their companies over the coming year according to the ninth annual State of Manufacturing® survey. These findings, coupled with shrinking concerns about the global economy, suggest 2017 will be a year of growth for the state’s manufacturing industry.

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The State of Manufacturing survey is orchestrated by Enterprise Minnesota (www.enterpriseminnesota.org) and is the most comprehensive survey of Minnesota's manufacturing industry. Rob Autry, president of Meeting Street Research, and pollster for all nine years of the survey, conducted telephone interviews with over 400 manufacturing executives throughout the state. The phone survey is complemented by ten focus groups with manufacturing executives, three focus groups with college students enrolled in manufacturing programs, and new this year, two focus groups with high school students interested in pursuing manufacturing as a career.

Minnesota’s manufacturing executives nearly unanimously—94 percent—report they are confident about the financial future of their companies, which is the highest recorded mark in the survey’s history and the fourth consecutive year that confidence has climbed. Fifty-seven percent said they are very confident, up 14 percent in just one year, and a staggering 30-point improvement over the first survey in 2008.

For the first time in the survey’s history more manufacturers predict economic expansion in the coming year over a flat economy. This year, 58 percent of manufacturers forecast expansion, with only 32 percent choosing a “flat” year. A record 55 percent of manufacturers expect to see increases in gross revenue this year, 11 points higher than the responses to the same question last year. Thirty-five percent of manufacturers expect revenues to increase by more than 10 percent in 2017 and 27 percent expect a double-digit increase in profitability, also record numbers.

Health care costs remain the top concern for manufacturers (59 percent), as it has for all nine years of the survey. “Government policies and regulations” was a distant second concern (32 percent), having fallen by nearly 30 points since 2011. The percentage of manufacturers who are having a difficult time finding “qualified workers” has more than doubled since 2011. The issue is even more pronounced in Greater Minnesota, with 75 percent of manufacturers reporting that it is difficult to attract and retain qualified workers compared to 62 percent of metro area manufacturers.

“At the time the survey was taken in March, it was clear that Minnesota’s manufacturers are optimistic about the economy and their companies’ growth potential,” said Bob Kill, Enterprise Minnesota president and CEO. “Manufacturers preside over a job-creating engine that feeds the economic vitality of so many communities across the state.”

The results of the survey will be presented at a series of regional events throughout Minnesota from May 9 to June 8 in Minneapolis, Owatonna, Fergus Falls, St. Cloud, Marshall, Bemidji, and Hibbing. Click here for more information on State of Manufacturing events.

Pollster Rob Autry, founder of Meeting Street Research, conducted phone interviews with 400 manufacturing executives, representing a geographically proportional cross-section of Minnesota between March 1 and March 21. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

Full survey top-line results and cross tabulations are available at www.stateofmanufacturing.com.

Platinum sponsors for The State of Manufacturing include: Bremer Bank; Granite Equity Partners; Gray Plant Mooty; Marsh & McLennan Agency; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED); and RSM.

About Enterprise Minnesota
Enterprise Minnesota is an ISO 9001:2008 certified consulting organization that works with medium and smaller manufacturing enterprises to help them compete and grow profitably, and also serves as the “voice” for the industry, raising visibility and appreciation for the value manufacturers provide our communities and the state’s economy. Our affiliation with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) further positions us to offer clients leading-edge services to improve manufacturing operations and strengthen business.

In the last five years alone Enterprise Minnesota has helped over 1,200 Minnesota companies gain access to strategies that increase efficiency and promote growth. Our clients have realized a total positive economic impact of over $794 million dollars in sales, reduced costs by over $100 million and invested over $446 million in modernization, and added or retained over 8,800 jobs.