OWATONNA — Manufacturers in Minnesota continue to be enthusiastic and optimistic about the economy, according to survey results of those manufacturers across the state.
And that enthusiasm has only been slightly tempered by recent talk in the national media about a possible recession looming on the economic horizon, said Bob Kill, president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota.
“The previous three years their enthusiasm was off the charts,” said Kill. “I would say now that theirs is a tempered enthusiasm, but it’s still pretty strong.”
Kill was in Owatonna on Monday to meet with members of the Southern Minnesota Chapter of APICS and discuss the results of the 11th annual State of Manufacturing survey. Though this was Kill’s second trip to Owatonna to discuss the results of the survey — he spoke to a larger Owatonna crowd about the survey results in June — he said that since that early engagement he has been traveling around the state, speaking to individuals and organizations about the results.
It has been six months since the survey was taken, Kill said, and little has changed in the way in which manufacturers are looking at the economy in the intervening months.
“Manufacturers are positive, despite what the national media is saying about recession,” Kill said.
If there is one caveat to that optimism, he said, it is the growing concern about the shortage of workers in the manufacturing sector, particularly concerns about attracting and retaining qualified workers and developing future workers.
“The inability to attract qualified labor is making company growth difficult,” he said.
The members of APICS echoed Kill’s conclusions, saying that the manufacturers were expressing a “cautious optimism” about the future, though they were “not as bullish as they were six months ago.” In part, the caution that tempers the optimism has been caused, they said, by the “uncertainty of the tariffs” in ongoing trade wars and how that might affect their business. Still, they said, the overall mood is one of optimism.
“The media tell us that a great recession is coming,” Kill said. “But that’s not what our clients are telling us.”
Kill indicated that work is already being done for next year’s survey with dates already planned for release of the survey results. As in years past, the survey of Minnesota manufacturers will be taken in March, with survey results slated to be released on June 9, 2020. A survey results release event is planned for the Owatonna Country Club on June 11, 2020.