Advanced manufacturing in Nebraska offers major economic opportunities for individuals as well as communities. Companies are keen to fill positions, and workers qualified for high-skill positions can find rewarding career opportunities.

Manufacturing employs nearly one in 10 Nebraskans, and the sector has bounced back from the Great Recession, with the largest employment in more than a decade. Gov. Pete Ricketts recently noted various manufacturing expansions across the state. Some examples:

In Holdrege, Allmand Inc. is expanding its current facility, with plans to add about 20 jobs. The company manufactures portable job site equipment such as light towers, generators, compressors and portable lights.

In Columbus, Becton Dickinson is building a $60 million plastic molding plant to produce vials, syringe caps and other components for the medical sector, building on the company’s substantial investment in Columbus.

In Scottsbluff, Aulick Industries plans to build a new, 30,000-square-foot building that will boost the company’s truck chassis production by 50 percent and add numerous jobs.

Such examples and others show the notable variety found in Nebraska’s manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing contributes $13 billion in annual economic output in Nebraska, with exports of $6.48 billion. In fact, during 2010-18 the state’s manufactured goods exports increased by almost 41 percent.

Last year, pharmaceuticals and medicines provided 11.3 percent of job growth in Nebraska’s manufacturing sector, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Other significant sources of Nebraska’s manufacturing job growth are medical equipment and supplies, 10.4 percent; motor vehicles, 7.3 percent; and motor vehicle parts, 4.1 percent.

Career academies across the state link local schools with local companies offering training opportunities for young people.

Other Nebraska efforts include the Developing Youth Talent Initiative, which provides state grants that help middle school and high school students develop manufacturing skills; the reVISION program, in which school systems, companies and the State Department of Education match instructional programs with local business needs; and German-style apprenticeships with two German companies that have American headquarters in Nebraska — CLAAS of America and Graepel North America.

Through such forward-looking efforts, Nebraska can nurture the next generation of talent for this important economic sector.

Omaha World-Herald

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