Off-The-Cuff

Can you believe spring is almost here? The Editor has doubts and probably won’t believe spring has sprung until late May or the first mosquito, whichever comes first. That snow pile buttressing our home probably won’t melt until July 4. With that cold thought, buckle your seat belts and away we go….

First, the Editor received his annual college hockey fix seeing American International and Minnesota State in a 1-0 defensive deep freeze. The Mavericks seem to tease us all at times with occasional greatness but just haven’t been able to get over the hump. Let’s hope next year works out better….

A month ago, I attended a Mankato Clinic reception recognizing 62-year-old Dr. Tony Jaspers (Cover story, January 1997) and his many contributions over the years to Mankato Clinic, which he at one time served as president. In addition, he has been Speaker of the House of the Minnesota Medical Association, 1998 Minnesota Family Physician of the Year, and a Lake Crystal city council member. This Mankato Clinic reception was a classy move especially considering Jaspers left the Clinic several years ago and joined Between the Bridges Healing Center in Mankato….

One item cut at the last minute from our Business Trends section was culled from cnsnews.com. Believe it or not, the 111th Congress added more to the national debt than the first 100 Congresses combined, a staggering $3.2 trillion amounting to almost $10,500 per American. Our national debt didn’t pass $3 trillion until 1990. Hold your checkbook for this statistic: 37 percent of our national debt—$5.177 trillion of our 221-year $13.8 trillion total—occurred in 2007-11 while Rep. Nancy Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, where all spending bills must originate….

The Editor received email from a new chamber of commerce president in our area saying someone had told her not to send Connect Business Magazine news items because we don’t feature companies from their smaller city. I emailed this new president telling her we had featured in various sections of our magazine businesses or people in her membership area 15 times since 1994, including eight times the last six years. Not surprisingly, she emails information regularly now. If you live in a smaller city and don’t regularly see information from your area in our Press Release (see p. 58) or Bulletin Board sections (see p. 42), nudge someone in your city to email us….

About three years ago, a group of manufacturing executives in our reading area was becoming very concerned about being unable to attract skilled young laborers for such positions as finish welders, C&C operators, and brake press and laser operators. So they formed a chapter of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA), which now has more than 20 members, ranging from Corchran, Winegar, New Ulm Precision Tool, Kato Engineering, MICO, and AmeriStar Manufacturing to Gaylord Metal Products….


In 2011, this group will have an April 6 Career Expo for tenth graders from around the region; develop a mentoring program to connect students to manufacturers to learn more about manufacturing careers; and have a tour day for career counselors, parents, and school administrators….

In a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview, Jones Metal Products Marketing Director and MPMA Member Sarah Richards said, “We need to do a better job of marketing manufacturing careers to children, parents, teachers, and school administrators. The thought is out there that manufacturing jobs are filthy and hard work, and teens have been steered away from looking into them. But not long ago, we had a group of administrators and principals from District 77 come to Jones Metal Products for a tour and one of the principals said, ‘This is fantastic. I had no idea these kinds of work opportunities are right here in Mankato.’”….

She said most skilled manufacturing jobs in our region pay between $15 and $30 an hour—and most are filled by Baby Boomers on the verge of retiring. While many industries have suffered cutbacks, she said, Mankato-based Jones Metal Products will likely hire another 15 employees this year—expanding to more than 100—to service agriculture, military, heavy construction, and energy customers.

Richards would consider MPMA’s efforts highly successful if only an extra 15-20 teens a year in our region decided to choose an A.A. degree or certificate and a career in local manufacturing instead of going on to a four-year college. She said, “I want to get to the point where parents and teachers tell their children they should go into manufacturing as a first choice.”…

Thanks again for reading south-central Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine. We have been here for you since 1994. Finally, be sure to join our Connect Business Magazine Facebook page to make more connections. Until next time…

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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