Washington makes great things.
In addition to the best airplanes in the world, we also make one of the world’s fastest rowing shells, state-of-the-art medical devices that save lives, the exceptional food and wines enjoyed around our tables, and countless other highly sought-after products.
As Washington’s designated manufacturing association, the Association of Washington Business is pleased to report that there’s a lot to celebrate. However, the manufacturing sector also faces challenges, including tax and regulatory uncertainty, a growing workforce skills gap and an outdated perception of what manufacturing jobs look like (Hint: it’s not your grandfather’s shop floor!).
To highlight all the state is doing right – and point out areas where we can make improvements – AWB will hit the road for our first-ever Manufacturing Week, Sept. 29-Oct. 6.
Throughout the week, AWB’s specially-wrapped bus will crisscross the state and stop for site tours and rallies with employers and their employees at manufacturers of all types and sizes to put the spotlight on and tell the story of the Washington workers and leaders building our economy from the ground up.
The week-long tour has three important goals:
- Show off the innovative made-in-Washington products and share how policies enacted in the Legislature can help or harm the manufacturing sector;
- Bridge the interest gap by educating the next generation of workers and their parents and teachers about the good-paying, hands-on careers offered in today’s high-tech manufacturing; and,
- Have some fun highlighting Washington’s dreamers, innovators and builders.
Reaching these goals requires AWB, its staff and leaders in the manufacturing sector to effectively tell the great story of Washington’s manufacturers. It’s a great story to tell.
In the U.S. and Washington state, manufacturing makes up roughly 9 percent of the workforce, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). There is also a strong return on investment; for every $1 spent in manufacturing, there is a multiplier effect of three. And, the 300,000 Washingtonians employed in the manufacturing sector earn an average wage of roughly $85,000 per year – good jobs that often do not require a four-year degree.
Today’s manufacturing is made up of clean, high-tech and innovation-based positions.
They are attractive jobs that we – employers, schools, families and elected officials – must collectively work to promote, educating the next generation of workers in manufacturing know about these careers and then train them for the 740,000 Washington job openings expected over the next five years.
Finally, Manufacturing Week is an opportunity to outline the tax and regulatory struggles facing the sector. Washington employers pay approximately 58 percent of all state and local taxes, but are faced with constant talk at the state and local level of new and higher taxes and added agency red tape – uncertainty that can hold back investment in expansion and job creation.
As NAM’s data shows, a vibrant manufacturing sector serves as a catalyst that ignites economic prosperity in our rural regions, many of which are still struggling to realize the economic recovery in the central Puget Sound region.
Everyone is invited to participate – stop by the bus and sign it when it’s in your area, join AWB at its Manufacturing Summit in Seattle Oct. 5 and open your shop doors to students, teachers, parents and state and local officials on national Manufacturing Day Oct. 6.
Most importantly, we encourage employers to make Manufacturing Week an opportunity share the story of how the manufacturing sector builds families and their communities. Together, we can show how manufacturing opens the door to upward economic mobility for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians. We hope you’ll join us!
Keep up with the Manufacturing Week bus tour, which includes five scheduled stops in Southwest Washington, by visiting www.awb.org/manufacturing-week-tour.
Kris Johnson is the president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s chamber of commerce and designated manufacturing association.