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State manufacturers upgrading

A new survey shows Wisconsin's manufacturers are upgrading equipment and their employees' skills.

The increasing efficiency is pumping money into the state's economy and creating new jobs.

Wisconsin's economy is 233 million dollars richer thanks to improvements made in the manufacturing sector last year. That's the finding of a new survey by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

The partnership, also known as WMEP, is partially funded by state and federal tax dollars.

Mike Klonsinski, the group's executive director says the survey shows the state's manufacturing sector is healthy, with firms making improvements, creating jobs and driving the economy.

WMEP links small- to mid-sized companies with consultants who point out efficiencies. Sometimes that involves investing in new machinery or employee training. WMEP claims to have created or saved nearly 2,700 Wisconsin factory jobs last year.

Klonsinski says concepts like "lean manufacturing" are helping factories become more competitive, because he says there is no such thing as price increases for products. Rather, he says companies have to become more productive and better.

He says another big part is being more flexible in products and more flexible with customers which opens up new markets.

Besides the $233 million that WMEP says it helped pump into the economy, the group says its manufacturing clients have generated nearly 16 million dollars in state income and sales taxes.