Wisconsin Program Launched to Boost Productivity in Manufacturing

Targeting small and midsize manufacturers, three Wisconsin business organizations have launched an initiative to boost productivity in factories across the state.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Milwaukee 7 and Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership say the new program, called the Transformational Productivity Initiative, will identify factors that limit productivity growth and then work with companies to solve those problems.

The WEDC has awarded Milwaukee 7 a $190,000 matching grant to implement the program, and between five and 10 companies are being sought for a two-year trial period.

The Wisconsin business groups say they aim to develop a user-friendly set of diagnostic and assessment tools for productivity issues.

The tools will come from teams representing select manufacturers, Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership and University of Wisconsin programs in Milwaukee, Stout and Madison.

“It’s a different, comprehensive approach that we haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Kelly Armstrong, the project’s lead for the WEDC.

“TPI is a long-term strategy directed at moving the needle on productivity in the aggregate, working with small and midsize manufacturers in a way that will ultimately drive wage and job growth in Wisconsin,” Armstrong said.

The productivity initiative is aimed at companies with fewer than 500 employees. “This initiative is critical if Wisconsin and the Milwaukee region are to remain globally competitive,” said Pat O’Brien, executive director of Milwaukee 7, an economic strategy group for the seven counties in southeastern Wisconsin.

In the next 30 days, companies will be chosen for the two-year trial period. They will be from various industries but must be manufacturers.

Applications are being accepted through the WEDC.

“What we will do is pick between five and 10 private companies that have volunteered to go through this process, at no charge to them, to be the pilot program,” Armstrong said. “The idea is to develop the (diagnostics) tools that can be used for small and midsize manufacturers across the state,” she added.