Chamber Business News

Guest Commentary: Why manufacturing matters

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to October in Arizona. Soon-to-be cooler temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, National Manufacturing Month, a nationwide recognition of the U.S. creators and innovators that supply 12.75 million jobs and nearly 12 percent of the country’s annual GDP in recent years.

In Arizona alone, manufacturing makes up around 8 percent of the state’s total output and employs nearly 6 percent of the workforce across 4,000 plants statewide.

While the numbers are impressive, modern manufacturing is so much more than that. The industry is made up of over 90 percent small and medium sized businesses, the majority of which are family owned.

Manufacturing is Stable

In Arizona, manufacturers are community builders, and often provide a direct path toward a more prosperous future. Manufacturing employees in our state most recently recorded an average annual salary of $82,321, nearly 53 percent higher than the median income for Arizonans.

Manufacturing is Diverse

Electronics, transportation equipment and food and beverage products are the three highest revenue producing sectors in Arizona. But again, manufacturing is more than that.

Among the products made right here in Arizona are: world-class golf clubs, defense-grade screws, top of the line kitchen appliances, and yes, even in the heart of the desert, luxury yachts. Manufacturing has a place for artisans, engineers, designers, management experts and beyond, including robots. As diverse as the products we make, manufacturing workers are likewise diverse in ethnicities, genders, faiths, ages and backgrounds, yet come together to make the products that improve people’s lives.  

Manufacturing is the Future

In many cases, manufacturers are the drivers of research and development in their fields and the unsung heroes of breakthrough innovations and healing pharmaceutical therapies. Their unending pursuit of greater efficiency, higher productivity and utmost safety keeps the industry, that is sometimes falsely viewed as dated or obsolete, at the forefront of innovation in the U.S.

Manufacturers are leading the charge on integrating technologies to serve as workforce solutions, improving sustainability and fueling a burgeoning economy.

Manufacturers are not without their concerns. Nationwide, and certainly here in Arizona, we face a job surplus and an accompanying skills gap. Manufacturers feel this when it comes time to hire and expand. Given the trend in production levels, the surplus is only expected to grow in the coming years. Luckily for Arizona, manufacturers understand this, and are stepping up and coming to the table where education and coaching programs are being developed to prepare a skilled pool of workers.

Manufacturers nationwide are a resilient group, and here in Arizona they will continue to improve operations, serve the community and educate and empower the next generation to address the global challenges of tomorrow.

Dawn Grove is the Chairwoman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council and Corporate Counsel for Karsten Manufacturing.

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