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Several Wyoming communities embrace National Manufacturing Day to showcase industry opportunities

Manufacturing Institute

National Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) is a nationwide initiative of The Manufacturing Institute with the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association as a founding partner. It’s aimed at inspiring the next generation to “start careers in modern manufacturing through a series of focused events to promote manufacturing to students, parents and educators,” which takes place annually on the first Friday in October and continue throughout the month.

Wyoming manufacturing businesses are taking advantage of the initiative which is now in its tenth year nationally.

“Manufacturing Day really is an effort to show the reality and future in modern manufacturing, what the career is now, and the career paths are now compared to where they were, five, 10, even 20, 30 years ago,” said Tyler O’Daniel, Assistant Director at Manufacturing Works. “One thing that we're really trying to embrace as we head forward manufacturing is the start of what's called Industry 4.0. And that's moving career paths to more of a highly skilled, highly technical position rather than your assembly lines and kind of the low skilled, low reward jobs.”

Several local manufacturing businesses are participating in Sheridan and Johnson counties in addition to those around the state.

There are approximately 12 businesses that are participating in the initiative this year between the two counties.

“What's interesting is oftentimes the general public, including students, or people returning to the workforce, they don't always have the opportunity to see what's happening in our manufacturing facilities because most of the time those manufacturing facilities are making things and their customers are typically people outside of our community,” said Dixie Johnson, CEO of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce. “So unlike some other industries and potential jobs or career choices, manufacturing is one that there needs to be kind of some effort to connect the public and kind of the future workforce with what's actually happening today [with] those different manufacturers.”

Participation with the initiative is voluntary and consists of professional guidance from the national organizations sponsoring National Manufacturing Day. Johnson added that it’s a great way to raise awareness of the manufacturing business in local communities and the role they play.

In-person tours are the primary way that the manufacturers participate in the initiative, though video and podcasts filled the void during the heights of the pandemic. Other communities in Wyoming have expressed interest in taking part in National Manufacturing Day.

“We're working really hard to actually get this event kind of propped up statewide as well,” she said. “So, Gillette, we're in our second year there and I think we've got about 12 manufacturers doing tours over there as well. Cody, Powell, kind of that base scenario over there we're going to kick that one off next year. I know Cheyenne,Casper, Laramie, [Rock Springs], they all have events going on as well, so we're actually trying to make this kind of into a statewide event. But I'd say for Sheridan over the last couple years, it's been probably pretty steady with anywhere from that kind of 10 to 15 [for the] range of participants.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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