Working to expand the state’s advanced manufacturing sector

Working to expand the state’s advanced manufacturing sector Main Photo

5 Feb 2019

economic development

By: Great River Energy staff

As an agricultural powerhouse, Minnesota is a state that understands food processing. Yet how many Minnesotans know how food products make their way into the unique and functional packages we find on our grocery store shelves? 

Between the farmer’s field and the breakfast table, a simple bowl of cereal will travel through a series of complex machines that measure and fill the bags, print and fold the boxes then pack and palletize the product for shipment. The same is true for every packaged food product in your pantry.

Thanks to its skilled and highly-educated workforce, Minnesota excels in all aspects of the food production industry, including the design and manufacture of some of the world’s best printing and packaging equipment.

The strength of Minnesota’s packaging industry was on full display in October at the 2018 Pack Expo, where more than 50 companies with a presence in the state joined over 50,000 packaging-industry professionals and thousands of exhibitors. The event represented the world’s leading suppliers of advanced packaging equipment, automation technologies and supply chain solutions.

Great River Energy’s economic development team joined the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) at the Pack Expo event in Chicago to support the state’s Minnesota Marketing Partnership and to enhance efforts to grow and attract advanced manufacturing operations in Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperative services areas.

The packaging equipment industry is currently experiencing a sustained period of growth, so the timing was right for DEED and Great River Energy to engage in deliberate conversations with companies that may need to expand their manufacturing capacity in the coming years.

One Minnesota company, Graco, announced a new expansion project in the weeks immediately following the Pack Expo event, and similar announcements are expected in 2019. 

From Chicago to Atlanta

Great River Energy’s economic development team continued to meet with advanced manufacturing companies in November, when it joined the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and the Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association (AMFA) at the 2019 FABTECH manufacturing tradeshow.

This is the second year Great River Energy has joined the team of economic developers and industry representatives who volunteer to staff the AMFA booth at FABTECH, which is considered North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing tradeshow and exposition. Building on the strength of past contacts and combined efforts of AMFA and its partners, Great River Energy was able to extend its reach and met with a number of companies that may be poised for growth in years to come.

For those companies not already familiar with Minnesota, information about the state’s skilled workforce and shovel-ready industrial parks was well received, and follow-up communication is ongoing with contacts from both FABTECH and Pack Expo.  

For more information about Great River Energy’s business expansion and attraction work, the Minnesota Marketing Partnership, or the tradeshow events Great River Energy attends, please contact Jeff Borling, economic development lead, at or 218-355-8088.