The public and prospective job seekers had a chance to see local manufacturing companies in action during the 2021 Tour of Manufacturing in Alexandria last week.

As part of this year’s event, six local manufacturers held open houses and explained who they are, what they do and how they do it.

The businesses included Brenton Engineering, Douglas Machine, Inc., ITW Heartland, LGC Biosearch Technologies, Alexandria Industries and Aagard.

The Alexandria area has a robust manufacturing sector, according to the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. It provided the following facts about the impact the manufacturers have in the community:

  • 21% of Douglas County’s workforce is in manufacturing (3,662 people).

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  • The industry weekly wage is $1,157.

  • Five of the top 10 employers in Douglas County are manufacturers.

  • There were six companies that participated in the 2021 Tour of Manufacturing; all together they totaled just under 1,000 visitors over three days.

Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed the entire month of October as Manufacturing Month, which recognizes the critical importance of manufacturing to Minnesota’s economy and highlights the many career opportunities in the industry.

Statewide, manufacturing provided 14% of the state’s gross domestic product and accounted for 11.4% of statewide employment in 2020.

More than 309,000 people work in manufacturing in Minnesota and, in terms of direct and indirect jobs, manufacturing supports almost 900,000 jobs, or roughly 33% of all the state’s jobs.

Average annual wages for workers in manufacturing are $70,860, 10% higher than across all industries in Minnesota.

“Manufacturing jobs pay well and many offer opportunities for advancement on a promising career path,” said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove in a news release. “Minnesota added 2,300 new manufacturing jobs in August. Minnesota manufacturers could likely continue adding new jobs for some time, if there are enough workers to fill them. At DEED, we are focused on highlighting manufacturing employment opportunities throughout the state.”

Many manufacturing jobs can be started with a high school diploma and employer provided on-the-job training, Grove said. Several of the current top 30 “jobs in demand” in Minnesota are in manufacturing – including production workers and first-line supervisors of production and operating workers, he added.

Grove said the next generation of workers will be a much more racially and ethnically diverse workforce than in past generations, and DEED is working with Minnesota manufacturers to enhance outreach to youth, especially youth from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The number of Minnesotans from BIPOC communities is expected to grow by 61.4% between 2018 and 2038, while the number of white residents will decrease by 1.6% during that same time frame.

Minnesota has more than 8,000 manufacturers making a wide range of products. Most manufacturing jobs in the state are concentrated in these areas: food manufacturing, computer and electronic products, fabricated metal products, machinery, medical devices and miscellaneous products, printing, plastics and rubber products, and chemical products.

Employers and people interested in exploring a career in manufacturing can find information on October’s Tour of Manufacturing events, manufacturing hiring events, fact sheets about working in manufacturing, regional labor market information focused on manufacturing, the governor’s proclamation and many other resources at