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Hoeven Discusses Importance of Mfg at ND MEP Mtg
Posted on July 12, 2001

BISMARCK, ND - Gov. John Hoeven today told reporters manufacturing is a powerful contributor to the economy. Hoeven spoke during the North Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership (ND MEP) organizational meeting. Seventy manufacturers from across the state were invited to take part in the day-long event at the Harold Schafer Leadership Center on the University of Mary campus.

�I can�t stress enough the importance of the existing manufacturers in our state,� said Gov. Hoeven. �With the MEP, we hope to further develop this existing business base while also nurturing new ventures in advanced manufacturing.�

In 1998, manufacturing contributed over $1.46 billion to North Dakota�s gross domestic product, which is 8.5 percent of the state�s output.

The North Dakota MEP center became active in December 1999. Randy Schwartz, director of business services for the Department of Commerce, said, �The MEP was formed to help small manufacturers become more competitive and close the productivity gap between small and large manufacturers.� In North Dakota, 790 manufacturers employ 24,406 people.

The ND MEP center has already helped several manufacturers across the state produce notable results. For example, Dakota Machine, Inc., a wind tower producer based in West Fargo, now uses lean manufacturing practices learned from MEP professionals. These techniques enable the company to produces 10 sections per week compared to four and one-half.

Funshine Express of Dickinson is on track to nearly double production numbers from last year with help of the lean manufacturing program. �Because of this increase, we are hiring an equivalent of three full-time staff to keep up with customer service, marketing and product development. So far, we have made this increase in productivity by adding only one person on the assembly line,� said Beth Strube, company owner.

Still implementing lean manufacturing practices, Cloverdale Meats of Mandan has seen results. �We have seen productivity increases, as well as improvements in both teamwork and product quality,� said T.J. Russell, chief executive officer of Cloverdale.

�I support the efforts of the MEP in our state and its economic impact in creating jobs with high wages,� Hoeven said. Annual earnings for North Dakota manufacturing employees averaged $29,711 in 1998, above the average for all other industries in North Dakota.

�Unfortunately, our state's manufacturing industry has been under-developed. Solving that problem is crucial and is precisely why we are here today,� Hoeven said.

At the organizational meeting, manufacturers learned about the national MEP system and began development of a strategic plan for the North Dakota MEP center.


Contact: Randy Schwartz, MEP Director, Department of Commerce, 701-328-5314.

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