The city of Wyoming has the proud distinction of being home to 30 percent of all commercial/ industrial/manufacturing in Chisago County. We are home to Polaris, Rosenbauer America, Regal Machine and Hallberg Marine, to name just a few. We have numerous high paying jobs in our city thanks to these and other employers, many of whom are looking for qualified employees.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports the average annual wages for advanced manufacturing were $53,442 in 2015, up 5.7 percent from 2014. Manufacturing in Minnesota pays an average annual wage of $63,794, which is 17 percent higher than the state’s overall average wage. Manufacturing jobs in Minnesota alone are up by 800 positions in August. This growth holds true in the city of Wyoming. All of our manufacturing (and medical) businesses are reporting job openings with great pay, generous benefits and not enough qualified applicants to fill the openings.
Manufacturers have invested a great deal of money in innovative equipment and processes. The state of Minnesota and the city of Wyoming celebrated Manufacturing Week Oct. 1 through Oct. 7. The city of Wyoming participated by coordinating tours with Regal Machine and Rosenbauer America for the sixth grade students at Wyoming Elementary. More than 70 students received an up-close view of the high-tech equipment these businesses use on a daily basis. The Forest Lake Area School District is looking towards the future with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Lino Lake Elementary. This program is a start for our kids to see the possibilities being offered in all fields of manufacturing, businesses and medical employment.
Today’s “factory workers” read blueprints, run computer programs, build, repair and maintain high tech machinery. These skills can be learned with proficiency in a two-year program. While sending our kids off to a four-year college is a great option, it too often results in high student debt without higher pay. Those making the decision to attend a two-year program, apprenticeship or occupational certificate are finding high paying jobs without student loan debt.
In Wyoming, we are having ongoing conversations with our businesses on how to help fill these jobs. As the city of Wyoming looks ahead to growth, it’s imperative we look to the local high school, tech schools and community colleges to find programs and potential satellite campus in our area. These schools can then work with the manufacturers to offer apprenticeships, paid internships, on-the-job training and work study opportunities.
In turn, we hope these future employees will purchase homes in our city, raise their families here, and support the other local businesses. In this day of “Help Wanted,” all we need to do is look in our back yard for high-paying jobs and a great quality of life.
Lisa Iverson is the mayor of Wyoming.