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New Report: Don't Forget Milwaukee's 'Small Batch' Manufacturers

Mitch Teich
Small-batch manufacturing underway in a Milwaukee-area facility.

Construction is underway in Racine County on the first elements of Foxconn’s massive factory complex.  Plans call for the factory to employ thousands of workers who will, at first assemble television sets, but later are expected to build high-tech glass screens for electronic devices.

The Foxconn development elicited an unprecedented state incentive package, with advocates saying it has the potential to transform the economy of the region.  But a new report out says another part of the manufacturing sector is already having a transformative effect.

"Folks still have a perception of manufacturing being big, dirty, repetitive, and boring," says Katie Stanton, program manager for the Urban Manufacturing Alliance, which authored the report called The State of Urban Manufacturing.  "And we just don't think that's the case anymore. 

"But we really wanted to dig in and understand what these new kind of manufacturers looked like." 

The report shows almost two-thirds of the so-called "small-batch" manufacturers have ten or fewer employees.  Nearly a third have existed for five years or fewer.  But nearly all forecast growth in the short term, but would like to see public policies that foster their ability to expand.