A year ago, we launched CompanyWeek to begin providing sustained media coverage of Colorado manufacturers. This week we reach an important milestone – regional expansion to become a media voice for the dynamic and growing Utah manufacturing economy with CompanyWeek/Utah.
Utah’s always been in the plans. We set out in September 2013 to begin a regional dialogue, for good reason. American manufacturing has momentum, and in the West, in Colorado and Utah, a widespread manufacturing resurgence is under way.
It’s not your grandfather’s sector: technology is transforming manufacturing - though innovation has always been a critical byproduct of U.S. manufacturing. Remade Industries like food and beverage are catalysts, and compliment growth in aviation, aerospace, and medical device manufacturing - what Colorado calls ‘advanced manufacturing.' And of course energy is a critical manufacturing play across the Rocky Mountain West.
A tie that also binds is a lifestyle opportunity that will bring millions of new residents West in the coming years. In Utah and Colorado and across the region, entrepreneurs will join those already blazing a trail to launch lifestyle businesses and light industry in cycling and skiing, apparel and consumer products. (CompanyWeek will host the first Colorado Apparel Manufacturing Summit this week.)
Ogden’s cycling epicenter is an example. It’s farsighted Mayor, Mike Caldwell, is building a regional reputation. His town is becoming a magnet for light industry. One of its terrific lifestyle manufacturers, ENVE, is profiled in the inaugural Utah issue.
By covering both states, we also begin a regional conversation. A bigger conversation is indeed our opportunity.
To many companies, state doesn’t matter. The region does. Mercury Wheels picked Ogden to relocate from Oxford, Mississippi but Boulder was a close second. Osprey Packs, an outdoor industry leader and innovator based in Cortez, Colorado, is moving distribution operations to Odgen, tapping the Wasatch Front’s more connected and capable transportation infrastructure, but keeping other key functions in Colorado. Hercules Industries, a regional powerhouse in HVAC manufacturing based in Denver sources materials from the west for its Utah operations to avoid traversing the Divide. Region matters.
But our core mission is to first raise the profile of manufacturing businesses within the local markets they operate. Why? Manufacturing has never been more strategic to the U.S. economy.
We we know what was lost when we offshored: wages are stuck, quality suffers, IP is often compromised; and travel budgets are maxed out. Supply chains are long. At the same time, the perception of a manufacturing career has suffered. The sector’s still seen as dirty and dumb. There's a skills gap, a labor challenge, across manufacturing.
But as we’ve found in reporting on over 150 Colorado manufacturers the past year, things have changed. Manufacturing today is modern story of increasingly high-tech, savvy fabricators, makers and designers. It's ambitious young professionals launching lifestyle companies.
It's also in need of being more connected. To reshore, to find suppliers and business partners, the sector must reconnect with each other. Media, at its best, connects people – and builds community.
Storytelling is the missing link until now.
Each week we’ll publish a newsletter for the Utah market, as we do with Colorado, with links to profiles of growing Utah manufacturers. We'll keep Colorado companies in the mix to keep readers up to date and connected to its neighbor– as we’ve done with Utah companies for Colorado readers.
CompanyWeek/Utah is possible because of the support of the Utah Manufacturers Association and its President, Todd Bingham (read his column). We’re equally motivated to advance manufacturing by telling its story. And in doing so overcome challenges like workforce and a dated perception of the manufacturing brand.
And at any point, contact me with comments.
Bart Taylor is founder and publisher of CompanyWeek. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 303-888-2832.