From: Della Schmidt
Winona Area Chamber of
Winona enjoys a strong economy with a varied business sector. However, with more than 100 manufacturing and technology businesses currently operating in Winona, manufacturing is clearly a critical contributor to the health of our local economy. While we celebrate Minnesota Manufacturing and Technology Week each October, as a community we should be honoring and protecting this business sector year-round.
Manufacturing is not a historical footnote in our community. This industry sector is vibrant today. It includes composites, electronics, food and agriculture, automotive components, and more. Manufacturing and technology businesses continue to show strong growth in Winona. Companies such as CPI Binani, PlastiComp, Miller Ingenuity and Behrens Manufacturing are just a few examples of businesses that recently invested millions of dollars in Winona through building expansions, new equipment and job creation. There are other Winona companies that will soon be announcing multimillion dollar expansion plans. These investments could be made elsewhere in the world, but these companies are choosing to invest and grow here.
Additionally, we have familiar names such as Peerless Industrial, RTP, Benchmark Electronics, Wenonah Canoe, Fastenal and Hal Leonard Corp., that are woven into the very fabric of our community. They employ thousands of Winona residents; they pay significant property taxes and support community arts, athletics and quality of life initiatives. Winona manufacturers have placed our community on the global map. They drive business travel, otherwise known as tourism, which pumps millions of dollars into our community.
Our local manufacturers benefit from Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University and Minnesota State College Southeast Technical. Higher education leaders would be among the first to point out that both students and the institutions benefit greatly from the internships, career paths and philanthropic support that is provided by local manufacturing companies. Higher education and manufacturing are closely tied together in the Winona region.
Winona is a rare community: strong in tourism, rich natural beauty, a vibrant environment for arts and culture, a recognized leader in higher education and known globally because of our manufacturing sector. Manufacturing is part of the Winona identity. It is a critical part of our future. We should celebrate it. Enjoy it. Most of all, we need to recognize it.