Supporting workforce and economic development in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region is a core priority for the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership (Greater MSP), which is currently exhibiting in Germany at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade show, ending Friday. Greater MSP, a public-private nonprofit partnership, has been promoting the region’s manufacturing sector at Hannover Messe, the grand-scale industrial event that consists of a lineup of leading trade fairs covering a number of different industries and markets.
Greater MSP collaborates with economic development partners at the local, county, and state levels and made the Germany sojourn seeking new channels of investment support. In an interview with IMT Career Journal, Mike Brown, Greater MSP’s vice president of marketing and communications, explained that while Minneapolis-St. Paul is not typically considered a main manufacturing sector, compared to areas such as Detroit and Cleveland, a variety of industries there are growing, particularly advanced manufacturing, in addition to the already thriving medical device sector.
Within the region’s advanced manufacturing sector, there are over 197,000 workers and exports worth over $14 billion, ranking it eighth in the country in “Manufacturing Momentum” by Business Facilities recently.
“While some may have the [perception] that we don’t have the industry workforce here, we realize that we have a substantial pipeline,” Brown said. He explained that the 13-county Greater MSP is currently working with companies to build and strengthen the industry workforce, noting that even though the region boasts a low unemployment rate (5 percent) and has a highly educated workforce — there are more students with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees in Minnesota than in almost any other state — one significant challenge remains: Employers say there is a prominent skills mismatch between job requirements and workers.
“For about 70 percent of the projects that we’ve been involved with, workforce has been a main concern, including areas such as the precision manufacturing space,” said Brown, who explained that the partnership collects feedback from 35 to 40 small to large businesses in the region.
To strengthen the labor force in areas such as welding and engineering, Greater MSP works with the Minnesota State College and University System (MnSCU), which supports Metropolitan State University and numerous technical and community colleges that are involved with workforce training.
The state and college university system “provides customized training” to 140,000 employees annually, and Greater MSP acts as a liaison between colleges and companies by performing workforce assessments to determine what skills are needed in the pipeline.
STEM fields are other areas of development for Greater MSP. Minnesota outperforms the rest of the country in the average amount of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM disciplines (18 percent versus 15.8 percent), and recent increases in engineering and computer and information sciences at the master’s degree level, as well as biological science at the bachelor’s level, will help support growth in the sectors.