Industry Focus: Advanced Manufacturing – Manufacturing High-Tech Growth

By Robert Tilton
From the May/June 2015 issue

The advanced manufacturing sector plays a major role in the U.S. economy. According to the Brookings Institute, the nation’s 50 advanced industries employed 12.3 million U.S. workers in 2013, about 9 percent of total U.S. employment—but U.S. advanced industries produce $2.7 trillion in value-added annually—17 percent of all U.S. gross domestic product, more than any other sector, including healthcare, finance or real estate.

At the same time, the sector employs 80 percent of the nation’s engineers; performs 90 percent of private-sector R&D; generates approximately 85 percent of all U.S. patents; and accounts for 60 percent of U.S. exports. Advanced industries also support unusually extensive supply chains and other forms of ancillary economic activity.

On a per worker basis, advanced industries purchase $236,000 in goods and services from other businesses annually, compared with $67,000 in purchasing by other industries. This spending sustains and creates more jobs—2.2 jobs are created domestically for every new advanced industry job—0.8 locally and 1.4 outside of the region. This means that in addition to the 12.3 million workers employed by advanced industries, another 27.1 million U.S. workers owe their jobs to economic activity supported by advanced industries. Directly and indirectly, then, the sector supports almost 39 million jobs—nearly one-fourth of all U.S. employment.


A number of global leaders in the advanced manufacturing sector are calling Mississippi home as they discover the state’s competitive advantages—the kind needed for long-term success.

The state’s supportive business climate and collaborative partnerships foster and ensure companies’ sustainable growth in today’s demanding economy. Mississippi’s businesses—whether new or existing, large or small—benefit from the state’s productive workforce, streamlined one-stop permitting process, competitive operating and energy costs, and extensive transportation network.

Mississippi knows a readily available, well-trained and productive workforce is a must when companies seek a new location or expand existing operations. To maintain its superior workforce, Mississippi partners with its 15 community colleges, which tailor workforce training programs to meet companies’ unique needs.

In Senatobia, MS, Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership program works with businesses across North Mississippi to train and provide highly skilled electronics engineering technicians. NMCC currently partners with industry leaders in the state, such as Toyoda Gosei, Schulz, FEUER, Parker Hannifin and many more.

Mississippi’s advanced manufacturers also partner with East Mississippi Community College’s Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence, which provides customized workforce training solutions. The CMTE offers manufacturing skills certification classes, M3 Production level certificates, M3 Advanced production skills classes and specialized training for companies.

Mississippi’s four research universities further bolster the state’s competitive advantage by offering access to the latest research and development advancements across a wide range of industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing. The Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi provides students with an interdisciplinary manufacturing education by bringing together the Schools of Accountancy, Business Administration and Engineering. The CME is advised by industry leaders such as GE Aviation and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi.

Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership program in Senatobia, MS, works with businesses across the region to train highly skilled electronics engineering technicians.
Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership program in Senatobia, MS, works with businesses across the region to train highly skilled electronics engineering technicians. (Photo:

The Mississippi Polymer Institute at the University of Southern Mississippi is a national leader in the study of composites, advanced materials, polymers and plastics. MPI helps high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies find solutions, train employees and improve their processes and products. Additionally, MPI has one of the most rapid prototyping systems in the world.

GE Aviation, a global leader in jet engine and aircraft systems, has found the formula for success in Mississippi. In 2008, the company opened its first jet engine composite components manufacturing facility in Batesville, MS. Driven by three successful years there, the company announced plans to open a second facility in Ellisville, MS. MPI and Jones County Junior College partnered with GE Aviation to support its hiring and workforce needs. The new advanced composites manufacturing facility requires a workforce well-trained in advanced composites manufacturing technology, and MPI, with its extensive polymer science expertise, provided the tools needed to ensure the area’s workforce was extensively trained in the field, securing the success of GE Aviation’s second Mississippi plant.

GE Aviation is a prime example of the many advanced manufacturing companies with successful operations in the state. With a focus on growing this sector, Mississippi has created a new powerful and easy-to-use tool to assist site selectors and corporate partners looking for the right location for their next expansion or site location, The comprehensive new website features vital economic and industry data for the state’s target industries and workforce development resources. Interactive features include an infrastructure- and industry-density mapping component and an enhanced GIS database for available sites and buildings. The website also features dozens of testimonials and success stories from industry leaders, highlighting their success in Mississippi, as well as the state’s numerous advantages and workforce training benefits. The online tool showcases Mississippi as a prime location for new business investment.

GE Aviation. Nissan. Toyota. Raytheon. Rolls-Royce. Huntington Ingalls. The list goes on. Mississippi invites you to come discover your competitive advantage, just as these companies and numerous others already have. Visit, or call the Locate Mississippi team at (800) 360-3323.


What is unique about Brampton—the raw energy of its people. Bramptonians are forward-thinking, creative and a dynamic catalyst for business success. Brampton’s young and diverse population makes it a people-powered economy. The people in Brampton are entrepreneurial, responsive, imaginative and competitive, bringing a variety of skills, knowledge and culture that no other city can match.

With a population of 600,000, Brampton is the ninth largest city in Canada and the third largest in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Brampton is the second fastest growing city among the largest 50 cities in Canada, averaging growth of 4.2 percent or 18,000 new residents per year.

Brampton’s median age is 34.7, the lowest among Canada’s largest cities. Its residents represent more than 209 different cultures and speak more than 89 languages that power the diverse labor force of 281,250.

Brampton’s young, educated and diverse labor force is matched by its ideal location. It is conveniently adjacent to Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International, as well as home to CN and the largest intermodal railway terminal in Canada. Brampton is also at the center of Canada’s major transportation corridors and close to the U.S. border and as a result the city thrives on a fast and efficient movement of goods. The city is within a day’s drive of 158 million consumers, making it an ideal place to locate North American operations.

Brampton’s incredibly diverse economic base is comprised of more than 8,600 businesses. Seventy two percent of Brampton’s economic base is comprised of service-producing companies and 28 percent of goods-producing companies. Brampton has access to a large pool of people with various skills that can be applied to a number of sectors.

Manufacturers in Brampton have continued access to trained employees and graduates from numerous first-rate post-secondary educational institutions. Brampton is home to 25 private career colleges and schools, with 19 post-secondary institutions within an hour’s drive.

The Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT), located at Sheridan College’s Davis campus in Brampton, produces post-diploma and degree-bearing graduates skilled in engineering, manufacturing design and machining. It also works with local industries on the adoption and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, positioning Brampton as one of the most sophisticated and end equipped advanced manufacturing cities in the country. CAMDT recently opened the new ABB Robotics Centre with an objective of finding more innovative ways to drive productivity and competitiveness in Canada’s manufacturing sector. This new production environment at the Centre is designed to serve both as a teaching platform for students and testing ground for industry.

Brampton’s Magna Technical Training Centre (MTTC) offers apprenticeship and skilled trades training programs that are unique from any other program in the world. Blending North American and European skilled trade training methods, the MTTC provides students with a broad understanding and skills in various areas of the automotive industry.

Brampton’s advanced manufacturing sector sees industry, academia and local government partnering to drive innovation, leading edge technology and increased productivity standards. Advanced manufacturing continues to be of the most significant economic sector in Brampton and accounts for 23 percent of Brampton’s total labor force. More than 30 percent of Brampton’s economic output is generated in advanced manufacturing, with over 1,300 companies employing over 51,500 skilled workers in automotive, plastics and rubber, chemicals and aerospace industries.

Vehicle production and assembly are a significant part of Brampton’s robust automotive sector. Industry titan FCA Canada Inc. (formerly Chrysler) produced more than 220,000 vehicles in Brampton last year, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger and Lancia Thema. This accounts for about 24 percent of all passenger cars manufactured in Canada. Ford, Matcor Automotive and Massiv Die-Form also are major players in Brampton’s automotive market.

Brampton’s aerospace industry employs more than 1,000 workers and accounts for more than five percent of Ontario’s total aerospace employment. Brampton is home to major aerospace manufacturers like Aircraft Appliances, Brican Automated Systems and ABB (MDA), the robotics company behind the Canadarm used on the NASA Space Shuttle that creates solutions for manned and unmanned space exploration, robotic mining, aviation navigation, robotic surgery and nuclear reactor maintenance.

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing in Brampton employs close to 4,500 people in over 200 businesses. Brampton contributed an estimated $360 million to the national GDP through the economic activity in this subgroup.

Brampton’s plastics manufacturing employs over 3,500 people and accounts for more than four percent of the national employment, with an estimated $331 million contribution to the national GDP. Top local employers in the plastics and rubber industry include Park-Pak Ltd., Brampton Engineering and Industrial Thermo Polymers Ltd—manufacturers of the world-famous pool noodle. Chemical manufacturing in Brampton represents seven percent of Brampton’s overall manufacturing sector and provided an estimated $378 million to the national GDP in 2011.

Awards and designations recently bestowed on Brampton include:

  • Brampton has been included in the Top 10 Mid-Sized American Cities of the Future 2015/2016—Overall winner for FDI strategy and included in the Top 10 in Mid-Sized American Cities for Connectivity and Business Friendliness
  • Brampton has a strong economy and is well-positioned for business investment. Its stable marketplace offers competitive energy prices, streamlined regulations and a low-risk investment climate. It also has been awarded a AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s for nine consecutive years.
  • First city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and one of only 10 in North America to be designated an International Safe Community by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Experience what a people-powered economy can do for you. It all begins at


The original industrial revolutions required a lot of hands and natural resources like iron and coal. There were massive assembly lines with thousands screwing on bolts, eight hours a day, seven days a week. When the railroads and modern highway systems reached the Pacific and the work became a commodity, the United States lost millions of jobs to the emerging markets that could assemble at a much cheaper price.

The lightning speed of technology that has defined and powered the current industrial revolution has created a growing need to manufacture micro-complex products that can be delivered in 48 hours. Now more than any other time, it’s our country’s chance to lead the next era of advanced manufacturing. Currently, the shining star is Iowa. The state’s manufacturing industry grew by 25 percent—contributing $25 billion to the state’s economy. In fact, advanced manufacturing is a larger part of the economy than agriculture.

There’s good reason for Iowa’s advanced manufacturing prowess and it starts with a quality workforce that’s second to none. A good example is Accumold, based in Ankeny. This 180-person shop builds custom micro-plastic parts so small that 100,000 of them can fit in a coffee cup. Accumold owns tiny. Its facility is filled with breakthrough manufacturing processes that require highly-skilled employees. It has a strong training partnership with Des Moines Area Community College and offers students full-ride scholarships with the possibility of a high-paying, full-time job upon graduation. The stable flow of capable workers helps Accumold continue to innovate and produce products that very few in the world can duplicate.

Iowa’s workforce is a driver in its ability to provide value on a global scale. The unique situation where the state’s educational institutions work in tandem with private industry to improve Iowa’s economic output is the standard. Take the relationship with Hagie Manufacturing and Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS). CIRAS shapes coursework to help Hagie Manufacturing meet its needs while allowing businesses to adopt the latest research-based processes. The result is that 25 percent of Hagie’s business is exported internationally every year. And Hagie is not alone. In 2014, Iowa exported $15.1 billion of manufactured and value-added goods.

Innovation is king in Iowa. Imagine an “assembly line” where the majority of employees hold engineering and other high-tech degrees. An assembly line of ideas that leads to advanced technology. Such is the case at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, developer of navigation systems, flight deck displays and other technology for the aviation and defense markets. Each year, engineering students grapple for coveted spots in its internship program. And competition is fierce because Iowa’s public universities graduate almost 2,000 engineers every year.

In Iowa, specialized training is the norm. Its university and community college systems work in partnership with its manufacturing industry to provide an uninterrupted flow of new employees adding to the 210,000 skilled workers that already thrive here. While training and education keeps Iowa competitive, there are several attributes you simply can’t teach, like loyalty. On average, Iowa employees stay with the same company for 12 years, drastically cutting turnover costs for employers.

According to Emerson Process Management, maker of the Fisher Technology brand of high-pressure valves and process control systems, there’s a cultural difference that comes from workers born and raised in Iowa. The state’s deep agricultural roots have helped companies innovate and grow. “People who’ve grown up on farms tend to have mechanical skills and know how to fix things. Much of our equipment is custom-designed and that not only requires mechanical or electrical engineering skills but a lot of testing and tinkering,” says Terry Buzbee, group vice president of final control at Emerson/Fisher. “Our company has been able to harness our employees’ agricultural background and work ethic to push product innovations forward on a global scale.”

Employing more than 1,200 at its global headquarters in Marshalltown, Emerson’s local Innovation Center is undergoing an expansion to apply the company’s innovation process to the growing 3D printing field.

Iowa is poised for the future. So while many in the Rust Belt lament the passing of the glory of days gone by, Iowa sits ready to lead in the next industrial revolution. The state’s employers are embracing an innovation-driven future where workforce education and training is the key to success. So, if you are tinkering with the thought of moving or expanding your high-tech assembly line, visit to start more productive conversations.


Accessibility impacts profitability. Boasting prime proximity between Baltimore and Philadelphia on Interstate 95, Cecil County, MD is manufacturing’s “On Ramp” to opportunity.

Cecil County’s Interstate 95 access catalyzes a company’s financial momentum in a global marketplace. Running along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida, Interstate 95 is the superhighway to commercial success. Cecil County’s Mid-Atlantic locale makes it a perfect midpoint for freight deliveries to Bangor or Boca Raton. Train transport via CSX, Norfolk Southern and Amtrak keeps products and people moving. Enviable access to the Port of Baltimore—the largest U.S. port and the closest to Midwest markets—shores up substantial profits.

Cecil County is home to world-class manufacturing mavens. Key employers include W.L. Gore & Associates, Orbital ATK, Terumo Medical Corporation, Terumo Cardiovascular Systems and Veltec. Rich in business incentives, R&D opportunities, land and intellectual capital, it’s no wonder that Cecil County is home to manufacturers on the move.

Cecil County’s regional partnerships provide support to additive manufacturers through the Regional Additive Manufacturing Partnership of Maryland (RAMP-MD). RAMP-MD is a consortium of private businesses, educational institutions, government agencies and representatives of the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Together, they’ve created an additive manufacturing hub that fuels partnerships and economic growth within the industry.

“ECBC has some of the most advanced additive manufacturing capabilities in the nation,” explains Rick Decker, executive director of RAMP-MD. “RAMP-MD provides access to equipment and resources that would otherwise be beyond reach to capital outlays. Manufacturers are able to move product from inspiration to production at a fast pace.”

The county partners with qualified companies to help them achieve upgrades or technical training intended to improve production and competitiveness. And the county offers innovative incentives to bolster businesses, such as tax-exempt financing, fast-track permitting, loans and other resources.

“Business development is a collaborative effort,” says Lisa Webb, director of the Cecil County Office of Economic Development. “Working together with private industry and nonprofit partners, our county creates a sturdy foundation for financial success.”

The 50,000 residents contributing to the local workforce are smart, skilled and tech-savvy. Cecil County offers a Workforce Training Partnership that helps manufacturers strengthen their employees’ capabilities. As a result, employees are prepared, productive leaders within the industry.

Today, over 1,900 Cecil County businesses employ more than 30,000 workers. Approximately 40 of these businesses employ 100 or more team members. According to recent data compiled by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), over 85 percent of residents hold high school diplomas. And 23.3 percent of the population holds bachelor’s degrees at a minimum.

Cecil County’s population is on the rise. The population as of the 2010 census was 101,108—up 17 percent since 2000. The rise in population is connected to rising opportunities, as evidenced by low levels of unemployment. With a median home price of $194,000, the prospect of homeownership in Cecil County is attractive and attainable. Residents who earn median incomes of $66,689 thrive as homeowners, workers and residents in this cradle of commercial success.

Offering the perfect blend of opportunity and tranquility, Cecil County residents savor over 11,000 acres of preserved forest, fields, trails, hiking paths and waterfront vistas. Residents and tourists enjoy Cecil’s expanse of shoreline, historic downtowns and specialty shopping.

If proximity to East Coast economic power and a capable workforce figure into your business plan, explore the possibilities in Cecil County. Cecil County is convenient, connected and centered on your success. Contact (410) 996-6292 or to fuel your prosperity today.


Do you think your company’s expectations are too high? Do you have questions about how to make your company’s plans for relocation or expansion work? Well, in Topeka and Shawnee County, KS the answer is “We Can Do That!”

Topeka and Shawnee County offers a wealth of resources and assets to existing companies and companies looking to relocate or expand. Whether it’s through a pipeline of highly educated workers or energy costs 18 percent lower than the national average, this community has something for every company:

  • Over 1,500 available acres fully equipped for your business, including two commerce parks with prime locations near rail and highway transportation and direct access to two runways.
  • Foreign Trade Zones that are “user friendly” site-specific and allocated on an individual company basis.
  • Aggressive local incentives, based on the quality of jobs, and state incentives, including income tax credits.
  • A tax program that exempts all machinery and equipment from personal property taxes.
  • A Community Improvement District program to reinvigorate old commercial/residential areas and retain business investment and job growth tax incentives for Kansas businesses.
  • A 10 year property tax exemption on real property for qualified companies.
  • Infrastructure that allows for goods shipped by truck to reach 25 percent of the U.S. in one day and 90 percent by two.
Central Crossing Commerce Park Map, Topeka Regional Airport & Business Center, Kanza Fire Commerce Park.
Central Crossing Commerce Park Map, Topeka Regional Airport & Business Center, Kanza Fire Commerce Park. (Photo: NPPD.)

Shovel-ready land next to some great neighbors is waiting for the next company that is looking to grow. If sustainable business practice is part of your corporate philosophy, you’ll appreciate the green initiatives at the new 1,000-acre Kanza Fire Commerce Park. Developed by Topeka and Shawnee County, this progressive commerce park focuses on sustainable design in the ideal logistical hub. Already home to Mars Chocolate North America, Kanza Fire offers mixed-use land parcels ideal for manufacturing and distribution. And with complete infrastructure installed, your business can be up and running quickly.

Not only does this area have land available and ready to develop, interaction between economic develop and local officials makes sure companies can transition quickly and smoothly into their new homes. This assistance doesn’t stop once you’re settled in. Programs are in place to help businesses continue to grow, with incentives for expansion and dedicated people working to ensure Topeka and Shawnee County remains one of the most business-friendly environments in the nation.

With unparalleled educational opportunities nearby and a thriving business community, Topeka offers exceptional human capital. The adults in Topeka and Shawnee County have done their homework; 36.6 percent of adults in the area hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 24.4 percent nationally. The four universities within a 60-mile radius have a combined enrollment of 63,000 and over 13,500 graduates per year. State tax incentives also help with continuing education and workforce training.

The diverse set of industries in Topeka and Shawnee County has helped the economy in the area stay fairly well insulated during the recent economic downturn. With large company headquarters and small start-ups, there has been steady growth, especially in the manufacturing industry.

There’s more bang for your buck in Topeka and Shawnee County:

  • The cost of doing business is 15 percent lower than the national average.
  • The cost of living consistently ranks eight percent to 10 percent lower than the national average.
  • State and local taxes are 11 percent lower than the national average.
  • Energy costs are 18 percent lower than the national average.

These factors were some of the reasons the area was able to attract large companies like Target, Home Depot and Mars Chocolate North America; it also is home to other large companies like Frito-Lay, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Big Heart Pet Brands, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and many others. Having these corporate citizens as a part of the Topeka and Shawnee County community has helped provide a stable quality of life throughout the Topeka and Shawnee County area.

Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas is home to a great group of corporate citizens and has the assets any company is looking for. Envision your company thriving in one of the nation’s most forward-thinking, business-friendly cities. Topeka was selected as one of Kiplinger’s Top Ten Cities for the Next Decade because of its smart, capable workforce, innovative ideas and collaborative community. If these attributes mirror your company’s ambitions, you should take a look at Topeka and Shawnee County. Find out more about this unique community and get ready for your expectations to be exceeded. Visit or call (785) 234-2644 for more information.


Decatur County REMC loves surprising its customers with refunds. Whether you rent an apartment, own a home or supervise expenses for a business, electricity and other utilities are a part of the monthly overhead. Most of the time, the expense is consistent, planned for, and budgeted, and you pay little attention to it. What you don’t expect is for the electric company to issue a refund. But the Decatur County REMC of Greensburg, IN (which serves 8,000 members in parts of Decatur, Ripley, Jennings, Franklin, Rush and Bartholomew counties) loves to “surprise” its customers with refunds. And even industrial customers are now receiving capital credit cash back from their electric utility, as one large energy user was happy to learn.

It’s an open secret that REMCs are not profit-driven, but operate on a customer-owned model. The businesses and homes receiving electric services are not just customers; they’re owners and investors in the company. As a result, a cooperative’s positive financial margins from electrical service are eventually returned to customers in the form of a payout called a capital credit. In spite of best intentions, these payouts don’t necessarily happen every year. Local electric cooperatives have an annual operating budget that considers much more than employee salaries and standard upkeep. Co-ops in many service areas, especially those experiencing rapid growth, require considerable capital re-investment for new or upgraded equipment to meet their customers’ electric service needs. While most budgetary needs are predictable, others are not, such as major storms or an influx of new customers moving into the service area.

Nevertheless, over the last several years, Decatur County REMC has set its mind to issuing capital credits to its customers every year, and in the vast majority of years, they’ve succeeded. Decatur County REMC issues, on average, a capital credit payout to all its members that equals two to four percent of their annual electrical usage. These credits are retired on a 25-year cycle, so the payments received this year represents the member’s electricity refund from 25 years ago. As a result, “Many individuals and businesses did not get a payout this year because they were not in our service area in 1990,” said Jim Wittman, a Hoosier Energy employee who serves as the Key Account Manager for Decatur County REMC and five other electric cooperatives. “Others are surprised because the payment was calculated from a ‘boom’ year of great growth, or a business may get a payout from an early year that doesn’t account for expansions.”

Generally, private homeowners, while pleased to see a payout, have less to puzzle over, as electrical usage remains relatively stable from year to year.

“Not all REMCs are able to reward their members with a check in any particular year,” said Wittman. “Decatur County likes to pay their members back every year. It differentiates the cooperative from other forms of utilities. We’ve issued a payback in roughly seven of the last ten years.”

The Decatur County REMC board analyzed their financial numbers for 2014 in January 2015 and voted to issue a payout. Checks for residential customers arrived in the mail shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, Wittman and Decatur County REMC General Manager Don Schilling traveled to key corporate consumer-members throughout February to personally present checks on-site. Schilling said, “It’s a little easier to explain the situation face to face.” Wittman notes, “In Greensburg, which is a heavy manufacturing area, we have several companies with long histories, so they’ve come to anticipate it.”

One such company, Valeo Engine Cooling, opened its plant in Greensburg 25 years ago. The plant manufactures radiators and condensers for new automobiles. Valeo has grown steadily, and now employs 700 people. Valeo received its first capital credit this year. Cost Savings Manager Dick Glaser, who’s been employed at the plant since it opened, recalled, “Jim (Wittman) called and said that they were bringing a check over. I had no idea what for. We’re handling the payment like ‘found money.’ The checks will only go up because of our growth since 1990.”

Glaser works very closely with the REMC. “We have a good relationship and they were very helpful on two cost-savings projects,” he said.

Schilling says Decatur County REMC started making a special effort to pay back capital credits on a regular basis in 1984. “Usually when we can’t offer a payback, we’ve had some unplanned expenditures,” he said. “When we do our financial forecast, we try to roll in everything we can predict so we can meet our goals without overdoing it. Most years we’re not too far off. Then we can schedule another set of onsite visits, which are a great chance to ask our customers how we’re doing, and emphasize that we’re here to provide service, not just make money.”

Learn more about Decatur County REMC at


Nebraska has always focused on its three natural advantages when it comes to the issue of business expansion or relocation: low energy costs, central geographic location and a high quality, dedicated, low cost workforce. That is the power of Nebraska.

According to economist Ken Lemke, Ph.D., author of Nebraska Profit Opportunities for Manufacturers of Fabricated Metal Products, those competitive advantages can be especially valuable to a metal fabrication operation. He says, “Nebraska plant locations can offer significant competitive and strategic advantages for both large and small metal fabrication operations.” And adds, “When compared to the average labor costs for 15 alternative states in the study, Nebraska is found to offer an annual savings of $295,447 in labor related costs, which is 10.4 percent less than the average labor costs for the other states.”

Lemke’s study also concludes that a Nebraska plant location offers a significant energy cost advantage. Industrial electric rates for the 15 alternative states average 9.1 percent more than the Nebraska rate and the average industrial gas rate is 22.3 percent more. Combining these advantages, Nebraska’s energy cost for a model plant employing 50 production workers is 11.1 percent less than the average energy cost for the 15 alternative locations.

Here are the factors behind those advantages:

Energy. Nebraska Public Power District’s industrial electric rates are some 25 percent lower than the national average. NPPD is the state’s largest electric utility and uses a diverse mix of generating facilities, such as nuclear, coal, gas, oil, hydro and renewable energy. For 2014, NPPD relied upon carbon-free energy sources for 42 percent of its overall resource mix.

Geography. Nebraska is a center stage to both regional and national markets with Interstate 80 being the most traveled east-west transcontinental route of the interstate highway system. Through Nebraska’s roadways, goods delivered by truck reach more than 25 percent of the U.S. population in just one day. The nation’s two largest rail companies—BNSF Railway Company and Union Pacific Railroad—provide service to many Nebraska communities, and no major city in the United States is more than five days by rail from Nebraska.

Workforce. Nebraskans take pride in the quality of their work, and the workforce consists of productive, dependable, educated and well-trained individuals who care about what they do. This contributes to high productivity and success rates, low absenteeism, and turnover rates. Unemployment insurance costs and worker’s compensation insurance also are lower than the national average.

NPPD’s experienced Economic Development Team has assisted numerous companies in finding productive and profitable locations in Nebraska. Services range from supplying requested information to guiding firms through the entire site selection process. For more information and a copy of the study visit


There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products.
There’s more to cannabis and Colorado than the crowd that’s smoking it. La Junta, CO is expanding production for another variety of cannabis that’s highly profitable: industrial hemp, used to make rope, canvas and paper products. (Photo:

Cannabis and Colorado tend to go hand in hand but for many it is because of the association with marijuana. There is, however, another variety of cannabis that hasn’t received the same amount of press, industrial hemp. Hemp is a cousin to marijuana but without all of marijuana’s psychoactive and addictive properties. Prior to the 1940s, hemp was used to make rope, paper and canvas among other goods. The Declaration of Independence and many Bibles were once printed on hemp paper. Today, one Colorado community is betting that industrial hemp can revitalize its town.

In April, the Whole Hemp Company announced that it is expanding its industrial hemp growing, processing and extraction facility to La Junta, CO. The project will take a long-vacant, big box retail location and repurpose it into a facility that will house up to 200 employees. After the announcement, Kashif Shan, CEO of Whole Hemp Company, said, “Whole Hemp Company is really excited to be in La Junta and has been overwhelmed by the support that the local community has already given.” Whole Hemp Company focuses on extracting cannabinoid (CBD) from hemp plants by using critical CO2 extraction. The CBD is then formulated and packaged for the nutraceutical and supplement industries. The potential of this compound could eventually lead to pharmaceutical applications and already has been approved by Brazil’s FDA equivalent Anvisa as a treatment to epilepsy.

After the extraction of CBD oil is complete, the company is then left with a fiber byproduct that can be refined into other raw materials. Once a region can produce 5,000 or more acres of industrial hemp, the doors are open for a bio-refinery. These bio-refineries can take the hemp fibers and create plastics, fuels, chemicals, pulp, packaging and textiles to name a few. Currently Whole Hemp Company plans to plant 250 acres in 2015 with plans to plant 3,500 to 5,000 acres in 2016.

2016 and beyond look to be exciting times for La Junta as they continue to rebuild the industrial hemp industry from the ground up. “As an economic developer, I am always looking for ways to improve the multiplier (number of times money circulates in the economy), and if we follow the value chain, the hemp industry has the potential to greatly increase the economic outlook for the Arkansas Valley,” explained Ryan Stevens, Director of La Junta Economic Development.

“La Junta and the surrounding communities are receiving direct jobs from the Whole Hemp Company and farmers are going to gain revenue from outdoor grow operations. The companies that follow Whole Hemp Company to extract the oils and refine the byproducts into other raw materials will create additional jobs,” Stevens added. “It is possible we will see additional manufacturers locate here in La Junta to be closer to their raw material sources. And then there are the indirect jobs that will come from all of these extra people having paychecks. Ultimately the community is able to capitalize on Colorado’s cannabis laws without opening our doors to marijuana.”

Whole Hemp Co. is a Colorado Limited Liability Company that is committed to producing CBD oil that is 100 percent U.S. grown and processed and 100 percent caustic solvent free.

La Junta Economic Development is committed to expanding the employment base in La Junta, CO by attracting new businesses and retaining and expanding existing businesses. For more information on La Junta Economic Development, please visit, or contact Ryan Stevens at (719) 671-9499.


Central U.S. location, efficient transportation connections and a skilled workforce add up to make the Joplin region a great location for distribution and manufacturing operations.

Anchored by the Joplin, MO-Miami, OK, metropolitan area and the Pittsburg and Parsons, KS, micropolitan areas, the Joplin region is the heart of the U.S. The market reaches from the midwest to southwest creating market access to more than 30 million people within a 350-mile radius.

“That market reach is more than what people consider traditional distribution hubs like Tulsa and Kansas City,” noted Kevin Welch, director of the Joplin Regional Partnership.

The Partnership represents more than a dozen cities in seven counties, in the three-state corner of Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. This gives companies a choice in picking a location that is right for their specific needs. With Interstates 44 and 49 crossing the region, most of the continental U.S., and parts of Canada and Mexico, can be reached in two day’s shipping time. The area also has three Class-One railroads and two short-line providers, guaranteeing ample access to rail and additional connectivity to West Coast and Gulf ports. Commercial air service is provided by the Joplin Regional Airport and three other commercial airports from 70 to 110 miles away.

While the Joplin region has great location and excellent transportation access, it is the workforce that makes many companies successful. The region’s workforce gets high marks from area employers, who note employees’ ethic and commitment to ongoing training. With the region’s history in manufacturing and distribution, people are still interested in working in these two sectors, as well as transportation.

“The commitment and pride in their work residents have is enhanced by the training and education facilities throughout the area,” said Welch.

Missouri Southern State University and Pittsburg State University offer a number of standard and customized programs in business management, quality control, logistics management and applied engineering. In addition, the presence of four community colleges provides a wide array of basic business and technical skills training for manufacturing and distribution firms.

Recently, the region aggressively worked with ACT to implement career-ready certification to national standards. Jasper County is the first ACT Career-Ready Certified community in the United States. Other counties in the region are working on their designations, but even now, more than 5,000 people in the workforce have their skills certification.

Along with the key business success factors of central location, strong transportation access, strong workforce and reasonable operations costs, the region has other attributes that are beneficial to distribution operations. Although not available in every county, the region has Foreign Trade Zone areas that provide benefit to companies importing or exporting goods to and from countries outside the U.S. In addition, a new EB-5 regional center is in place, giving expedited residency permits to foreign individuals making qualified investments in the region.

Companies seeking a central U.S. location with strong market reach to both coasts, Canada and Mexico will find the Joplin region offers multiple possibilities for sites, buildings, transportation and workforce skills. Learn more by contacting Kevin Welch at the Joplin Regional Partnership at or (417) 624.4150.


Southwest Louisiana is home to a university, community and technical college, construction and maintenance crafts training facilities and a secondary education system that is prepared to provide qualified workers. Local efforts are bolstered with initiatives from the state of Louisiana.

“For three generations, the people of southwest Louisiana have supported the petrochemical and refinery industries in our region through educating and training the next group of workers,” said Richard Smith, the Alliance’s Vice President of Workforce Development. “Many of these workers have known from a Young age that they will pursue a career in these industries and prepare themselves to enter the workforce with the knowledge, skills and aptitudes required for them to be successful in the industrial workplace. Our workforce development system is growing and expanding to prepare large classes of students today to be the workers of tomorrow.”

The administration and staff at McNeese State University decided ahead of the growth surge that the institution would be a key player in creating innovative ways to address workforce issues—and a proactive leader in spreading this innovative thinking throughout the region.

“With billions in economic development projects in progress or announced in Southwest Louisiana, employers will depend on McNeese to provide science, engineering, math and computer science graduates that will be in high demand for the expanding industrial facilities,” McNeese President Dr. Philip Williams said.

The McNeese College of Engineering works closely with area industry partners to tailor coursework in nationally accredited chemical, electrical, mechanical, electrical engineering and computer science programs to combine engineering and technology fundamentals with the practical, hands-on experience.

Dr. Nikos Kiritsis, dean of the College of Engineering, notes McNeese graduates are “job ready on day one.” Along with featuring faculty with decades of industrial experience, Kiritsis notes “McNeese is one of the few four-year universities in the country to have a model chemical plant on our campus. Our students and current industry employees use the facility to train in a real world environment.”

The McNeese Institute for Industry-Education Collaboration is the region’s recognized provider of innovative, measurably effective training, continuing education and post-baccalaureate certificate programs specifically designed to help industry enhance employees’ technical knowledge and prepare them for very specialized areas in their professional field.

“By offering these training programs locally utilizing our facilities and faculty, industry saves thousands of dollars on travel costs and reduces the days that employees are offsite,” Kiritsis said.

McNeese State University recently became one of the first universities in the country to offer its students and faculty Google Glass as a new research tool through its Innovation Center located in the SEED Center. McNeese’s comprehensive innovation program encourages students from all majors to become innovative decision makers and problem solvers.

“McNeese is in a prime position to provide for the increased need for the graduates in business, healthcare, allied health services, education, agriculture, criminal justice, recreation, tourism and entertainment that the economic and population growth will require,” Williams said.

McNeese was just the second university in the country to offer a curriculum for students in all majors that will teach them how to develop innovative concepts, refine ideas, communicate the benefits and credibility of a concept, and create working prototypes. The Innovation Engineering minor is applicable to all business environments and employment settings. Students use the high tech innovation lab to brainstorm, test theories and create solutions. An incubation studio offers students space, technology and tools to transform their ideas into new businesses. McNeese awards nearly 70 percent of the public four-year college degrees earned by residents of Southwest Louisiana, and, for the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named McNeese one of the best regional universities in the South and also one of the top 50 public universities in the South.