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3 Takeaways on the Current State of Manufacturing

Mar 21, 2019

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On March 15, 2019, we in the MEDP office were able to attend the Oregon Manufacturer’s Summit hosted by the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP). One of the speakers at the event, Jennifer Campbell, Industry Group Leader at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, shared the results of a survey given to Pacific Northwest manufacturers. The results of this survey reveal insights into the current state of manufacturing, what the main concerns are, and what we, as economic developers, should keep an eye on going forward.

Reading over the report we found a few takeaways to keep in mind as we work with manufacturers in the years to come.

1. We Need to Focus on Workforce.

According to the report, “Three-quarters of manufacturers see improving and expanding their workforce as a top challenge.” Speaking with our own manufacturers, we see the truth in this statistic. Yamhill County is experiencing historically low employment rates and studies have shown that the current pipeline is not set-up to fill the number of workers retiring in the coming years. Along with this, 62% of employers indicated that they plan to increase their hiring compared to the previous year.

We at MEDP have committed to our McMinnville WORKS pillar. Programs including our McMinnville WORKS Internship Program and new Career Bound Pathways program have been created to help connect companies to innovative workforce solutions.

2. Technology is Coming

We know that Artifical Intelligence (AI), automation, and robots have been buzz words for years, but they have been for good reason. According to the report, “automated manufacturing is expected to have the largest impact on Pacific Northwest manufacturers in the next two years.” The most important benefits of new technologies for manufacturers included increasing manufacturing speed, decreasing labor costs, and increasing quality.

Though very few manufacturers reported they expected a momentous shift, how and when a company utilizes new technology will have a large impact going forward. Technology like cobots, or robots intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace, will change the way shop floors look and operate. Though robots may take up more routine tasks, they will still need skilled humans to operate them.

3. Rain Doesn’t Dull a Sunny Outlook

Manufacturers in Washington and Oregon have a generally positive outlook on the business climate in the Pacific Northwest. Though there are both pros and cons, 70% of manufacturers in Oregon stated their outlook on the business climate was good, while 13% said it was excellent. While some cons of doing business in the Pacific Northwest included low unemployment and the cost of living, some pros included access to raw materials, the location and culture, and access to ports for international shipping. It helps that in McMinnville, Oregon we have the lowest combined utility rates in the state.

Curious what it could be like to do business in McMinnville, Oregon? Give us a call at 503.474.6814


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MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

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