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Impact of Manufacturing in the Fox Cities

The Fox Cities area provides a ripe and welcoming environment to help businesses flourish. Ranking well above average when it comes to economic growth rates, the Fox Cities region is one of the top manufacturing centers in the country, boasting labor force growth that outpaced Wisconsin and national averages, yet with competitive wages and some of the lowest crime rates in the vicinity.

Paper manufacturing, agriculture and defense have all been strong industries for this area. The region is also ideal for transportation and high tech manufacturing, and it exported more than $22 billion in manufactured goods in 2013 alone. Now the expectation is for more growth, especially in manufacturing, as more free trade agreements are passed at the federal level.

In fact, the manufacturing industry employs more than 20 percent of the workforce in northeast Wisconsin, and thousands more jobs are expected to be added in this area over the next decade. To date, the Fox Cities has a workforce that encompasses more than 800,000 people, when including working populations from communities within a 50-mile radius.

Protecting jobs and building an even stronger infrastructure and workforce have been paramount in this ever-growing environment. That’s why having partnerships with local educational systems have been key to the Fox Cities’ commercial success. More than a year ago, the Appleton Technical Academy was launched. This charter school program within the Appleton Area School District was implemented to collaboratively work with local businesses to successfully train students for manufacturing jobs and gradually lessen the skilled labor gap.

In fact, multiple charter schools in the area support manufacturing through their curriculum, including: Appleton School District’s Tesla Engineering Charter School; Neenah School District’s Engineering and Manufacturing Academy; and Little Chute School District’s -Manufacturing Academy.

Moreover, the Chamber of Commerce’s Fox Cities Talent Collaborative looks for even more ways to align resources and to develop partnerships with local employers, development groups, school districts and other entities to increase the region’s ability to anticipate, adapt and respond to workforce needs. The online platform,, helps to connect Fox Cities businesses with students and educators. It provides connections for students to find career development opportunities like job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships.

Pulse Young Professionals is yet another initiative that looks to encourage and inspire young professionals to thrive. The group allows participants to expand their network, form new friendships and brainstorm ideas via continuing education, business development skills and other forward-thinking enterprises.

There is no question about it: manufacturing is a very vibrant and viable industry in the Fox Cities region, and it is ready to take your business vision to the next level.

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