Manufacturing an Economic Engine for Northwestern Wisconsin

Last week, Wisconsin was selected by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be one of only 10 states to participate in the Policy Academy on Strengthening Your State’s Manufacturers. I’m proud to be a part of this team that will be working to leverage our state’s resources to ensure our communities and taxpayers see the full benefit of their investment in the manufacturing industry.

Wisconsin’s manufacturing industry is part of who we are as a state. Our manufacturers are a critical component in the supply chain for some of our most well-known products. Our paper mills are key to our timber producers, and our cheese processors provide an important market for our state’s dairy farms. And in Wisconsin, manufacturing is on the move.

In 2017, manufacturing made up 18.2% of Wisconsin’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and our manufacturers exported over $21.24 billion in goods in 2018- and of those exporters, 87% were small businesses. Our region is a critical part of Wisconsin’s growing manufacturing industry. Over 20% of the workforce in Polk, St. Croix, and Barron counties worked in manufacturing.

Last year, this industry expanded even further with Wisconsin adding the second-most manufacturing jobs among U.S. states. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed “Wisconsin had a total of 490,000 manufacturing jobs as of November, which is 19,000 more than the state had in November 2017. Only Texas, which added 36,000 manufacturing jobs during the same period, added more than the Badger State.” Wisconsin is second only to Indiana for the nation’s largest manufacturing concentration.

Additionally, for every $1 of goods produced, manufacturing generates an additional $1.37 to the economy, and each manufacturing job creates another 2.5 jobs in local goods and services.

While this growth is encouraging and its potential exciting, Wisconsin needs to do more to strengthen the industry, retain our workers, and ensure that we see the greatest return possible for our taxpayers.

The NIST Policy Academy will provide an opportunity for Wisconsin to build even stronger organizational partnerships and develop the best policies and practices to support our manufacturing industry.

I will be working alongside representatives from the Wisconsin's Technical Colleges, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, UW-Stout Discovery Center and Technology Transfer Institute, and others to develop the best solutions for Wisconsin and our district.

While all of our taxpayers are making an investment in this industry, the benefit is not always felt across the state. I am committed to fighting for the 10th Senate District to ensure that the state is building partnerships and providing resources that will benefit the business owners and workers of northwestern Wisconsin. The Policy Academy will provide a great opportunity to seek national support for this industry in our area and ensure that our state continues to build on our strong manufacturing heritage for the next generation.


State Senator Patty Schachtner represents Wisconsin’s tenth senate district. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.