OWATONNA — Collaboration between nine state and regional organizations for the second year in a row has resulted in the largest regional field trip ever executed in southeast Minnesota during Manufacturers Week. For three days, Oct. 1- Oct. 3, 2019, twenty-seven manufacturers will open their facility doors to over 500 high school and college students from 15 schools in southeast Minnesota.

Manufacturing has the second-largest total payroll among private-sector industries at $20.3 billion annually in 2016. Manufacturing pays an average annual wage of $63,794. That’s $9,501 (or 17 percent) higher than the state’s overall average wage.

“We have doubled the number of students this year and the manufacturers have stepped up their tours, accommodating hundreds of students,” says Heather Holmes, student tour co-lead and RAEDI Project Manager. “RAEDI is excited to help lead and facilitate this connection and continue to remove the negative stigma that sometimes follows the manufacturing industry.”

Students will tour facilities in Albert Lea, Blooming Prairie, Owatonna, Chatfield, Dodge Center, Fountain, La Crescent, Lake City, Pine Island, Red Wing, Rochester, Stewartville, and Winona. Transportation was made possible by a grant in partnership with Dream It Do It Minnesota and the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association.

“Upon high school graduation, we know that our high school students would prefer to remain in or near their hometown for future employment that aligns with their interests. Experiential learning, like these group tours, is a top influencer to high school students to show them the opportunity and career potential locally. Our community employers are not only helping to open doors and show opportunities for our local students, but by participating they are also opening doors for their own long-term retention and pipeline development.” says Sarah Ness, student tour co-lead and Program Manager, Southeast Services Cooperative. “Thanks to Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association, Dream It Do It Minnesota is able to provide transportation scholarships to help our schools with the cost of busing to and from a manufacturing business.”

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