Manufacturing is a broad industry with several job opportunities and potential to bring revenue into the state, but it struggles to attract employees, a Manufacturing Works representative said.
“One of the biggest challenges to manufacturing is building a workforce,” said Gustave Anderson, Manufacturing Works assistant director of business development and operations. “People aren’t looking for it. I just don’t think it’s on the forefront of people’s minds.”
To boost local awareness about Laramie’s manufacturing capabilities and career opportunities in the industry, Anderson said local businesses planned to participate in Manufacturing Day by hosting several events planned for Thursday and Friday, highlighting Laramie-based manufacturers.
“It’s a national day, but it’s very much a local activity,” he said. “Every community in Wyoming has some manufacturing in it. When most people think of manufacturing, they think of an assembly line, and while that certainly is manufacturing, brewing is also a form of manufacturing.”
While Handel Information Technologies manufactures IT management software and Atmosphere Mountainworks manufactures outdoor sportswear, the Laramie Soap Company could be considered an example of Laramie’s boutique manufacturing industry, which focuses on hand crafted products for specific markets, Anderson said.
“Across the state, we’ve got stuff happening,” he said. “The goal of this event is to get people to understand we have all sorts of manufacturing here.”
At least four companies — High Plains Biochar LLC, Coal Creek Roastery, Metrohm Raman and Avvid Corporation — and WyoTech are slated to host facility tours during the event, Anderson said.
In conjunction with the Wyoming Business Council and Alliance of Wyoming Manufacturers, Manufacturing Day turned into a week celebrating Wyoming’s manufacturers across the state, Wyoming Business Council Communications Director Ron Gullberg said.
Manufacturing is a $2.4 billion industry in Wyoming and a key source of well-paying jobs — Wyoming’s 9,800 manufacturers average $64,600 in annual wages, according to a Wyoming Business Council news release.
The 520-plus firms can be found in every Wyoming county and create products using raw materials ranging from beef, yarn and grains to steel, coal and electronics the release states.
The industry contributes 5.5 percent to Wyoming’s gross domestic product compared to 11.7 percent for the U.S. and closing the 6-percent gap could add $2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, according to the release.
“(Manufacturing Day) kicked off with a proclamation from (Gov. Matt Mead) at a tour of Puma Steel’s facilities in Cheyenne (Monday),” Gullberg said. “It’s an important industry. It has a lot of benefits. When we talk about diversifying Wyoming’s economy, manufacturing certainly plays a pivotal role.”