North American Tissue News

How the state government can help northeast Wisconsin industry in 2021

Ann Franz, NEW Manufacturing Alliance Executive Director, says Wisconsin's leaders can help manufacturers combat the years-long issue of a lack of employees in 2021

Countless work industries experienced new problems in 2020. But for manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin, it was business as usual.

“Where we’re really going to see our state advance the needs of our area, our citizens, is in 2021,” NEW Manufacturing Alliance Executive Director Ann Franz said about the state government’s assistance in 2020.

On the day of Governor Evers State of the State address, Franz says Wisconsin’s leaders can help manufacturers combat the years-long issue of a lack of employees in 2021. She believes people just don’t have the right motivation to work in the industry.

“Unless we are able to beat that challenge and help them find people and help those people find great jobs in manufacturing, those companies are going to have to start looking at moving out,” Franz said.

Georgia-Pacific is a pulp and paper company in Green Bay. It says the Coronavirus has only amplified its low number of workers.

“Being a 24-7 operation, we need people there on site to actually run the equipment,” Georgia-Pacific public affairs manager Mike Kawleski. “So that was a struggle in some areas occasionally.”

Franz says one way state and local governments can help manufacturers like Georgia-Pacific is by simply promoting the state of Wisconsin as a great place to work and a great place to live.

“Getting out that message because a lot of people… they see the Green Bay Packers and they’re like ‘oh… the frozen tundra,'” Franz said about living in Northeast Wisconsin. “Well, that was one day 40 years ago.”

“[The help] might be in a long term professional image campaign for the state, specifically targeted at the workforce,” Kawleski said.

And manufacturers like Georgia-Pacific say education costs are just too high to encourage enough people to work in manufacturing.

“For some students, it’s how are they going to afford education beyond high school, whether that’s a technical college or a four-year institution?” Kawleski said.

But Kawleski has another idea for state leaders to add more workers to the manufacturing industry.

“Encourage manufacturers, the business community and education to partner up to provide opportunities for those students,” Kawleski said.

Governor Evers did not focus on bringing more jobs to Wisconsin or filling open roles in his State of the State address.

Check the original story here.

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