This is the second in a series spotlighting South Dakota’s manufacturing industry during the 2nd annual SD Manufacturing Week.
Manufacturing has a strong presence in South Dakota, and in Mitchell, S.D., it’s fair to say manufacturing is one of the community’s top industries. And one group is hoping to create more buzz and awareness about the growing industry.
The Mitchell Area Manufacturers Association, or MAMA, has been around for close to 40 years. It is a membership organization structured specifically to “promote and improve Mitchell and the surrounding communities by maintaining a strong manufacturing base and developing quality employment.”
As with all organizations, MAMA has seen its share of struggles, but it’s also celebrated some major successes too.
One of its major accomplishments is a Mitchell-area housing survey, which MAMA funded, in 2011.
“Our group has long been an outlet for manufacturing companies in the Mitchell area to come together and share information on various issues, including legislation, transportation and especially housing,” said Joe Kippes, MAMA board member and director of production for Toshiba in Mitchell. “That’s how the housing study got started. So many employers, manufacturers and otherwise, were coming to us saying ‘There’s nowhere for my employees to live,’ and ‘We’re spending a fortune on hotel rooms,’ and that’s when we knew something had to be done.”
Since the inception of the housing study, eight properties have been constructed, providing as many as 500 new housing units.
MAMA is also investing in future workforce. As part of SD Manufacturing Week, MAMA will present a $500 Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) Scholarship to a student enrolled at MTI. In 2013, MAMA received more than 300 applicants. Laurie Cooper, MAMA board member and director of operations for the Mitchell Area Development Corporation (MADC), hopes the group can not only maintain that number, but grow.
“We want kids to think about how manufacturing impacts them and how it is important to the future of our economy,” said Cooper. “It’s an opportunity for kids to think outside the box and hopefully get them thinking about career opportunities in the manufacturing field.”
Applications are still being accepted, with the winner announced on Tuesday, Oct. 7. For more information about the scholarship, contact Cooper at 605.996.1140.
MAMA has coordinated public tours of Mitchell area manufacturers in observance of SD Manufacturing Week 2014. Participating companies are Graphic, Hendrickson, POET, Toshiba and Trail King. The public is invited on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. to participate in guided tours of these companies. Admission is free and attendees are invited to enjoy refreshments and register for door prizes.
For a full list of events going on during SD Manufacturing Week, visit www.sdreadytoparter.com/SDmfgweek2014.