Iowa is expected to hold at least 128 such events, with one in every county. The scheduling was made possible through work by Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), the Elevate Iowa campaign, Iowa’s 15 community colleges, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and many others.
CIRAS’ analysis of economic data shows that manufacturing accounted for 18.3 percent of Iowa’s economy in 2014, employing more than 220,000 people at an average wage of more than $54,000 per year. Yet, surveys show only 37 percent of Americans are planning to encourage their children to choose careers in manufacturing.
Industry advocates hope a broader exposure to modern manufacturing will help change some outdated perceptions.
“Manufacturing today isn’t the dark, dirty factories of the past,” said CIRAS program director Mike O’Donnell. “Modern manufacturing uses advanced technology, robots and even 3-D printers. There are countless careers available, from the production floor to finance and engineering, to name just a few.
“Personally, manufacturing has allowed me to do things I never could have imagined,” O’Donnell said. “The skills and experiences I gained can’t be duplicated by any other industry. It’s time we start changing people’s minds by sharing our stories and opening our plants.”
Iowa is home to approximately 6,110 manufacturing firms, including nearly 900 food factories. Iowa factories make everything from tiny things, such as food ingredients and micro-molded plastic parts, to giant things, such as grain bins and tensioned fabric buildings. Combined, manufacturing produces the second largest share of Iowa’s gross domestic product, behind “financial activities,” and added $31.2 billion to the state’s economy in 2014.
Iowa’s Manufacturing Day events cover a broad range of experiences for anyone interested in learning more about how things are made in the state.
A complete list of plant tours, classroom sessions and other opportunities can be found at www.mfgday.com.
Additional information about manufacturing careers and training can be found at www.elevateiowa.com.