Manufacturing tour a chance to see progress in action

Posted on May 8, 2018 10:19 am CDT

By Congressman Billy Long,

This May marked my seventh annual manufacturing tour in Missouri’s 7th Congressional District. Each year I look forward to this tour and seeing the high-quality workforce in southwest Missouri, which never ceases to amaze me. This year was no different. I toured a variety of manufacturing facilities, including Elemoose in Springfield, ROi in Brookline, WinTech in Monett, Heritage Oak in Sarcoxie and Bemis in Joplin.  After visiting these facilities and talking with the hard-working employees, I am confident that the 7th District of Missouri, like the rest of the state, will continue to be a leading force in manufacturing.

Missouri’s manufacturing workforce employs more than 260,000 people. Not only does Missouri rank among the top states for manufacturing employment, it also accounts for 11.3 percent of the state’s private sector workforce. From 2011 to 2016, the manufacturing industry added more than 17,000 jobs in Missouri, growing at a rate of 1.4 percent during that period. Nationally, the growth rate was only 1 percent. Compared to the average private sector wage, which is $46,500, the average manufacturing wage in Missouri is $56,285. In Missouri’s 7th Congressional District, the numbers are even more promising. More than half of the counties in the district have a higher concentration of manufacturing jobs compared to the national average.

From the moment I kicked off my manufacturing tour, I got to see firsthand the hard work these men and women put in every day to produce high-quality services and equipment. My first stop was Elemoose, which produces custom fabricated products. Elemoose has numerous clients around the world, including Walt Disney World, Bass Pro Shops and Wonders of Wildlife. My second stop of the day was ROi, which specializes in health care needs. This manufacturing facility is part of Mercy Hospital and is one of the leading forces in health care supply chain management. During the tour, I got to see how ROi works with providers every step of the way in supporting their efforts for supply chain solutions. The company has been growing at such a fast rate that it now has a second facility to increase its employment base. On my third stop, I visited WinTech, which is an employee-owned business that builds high quality, cost-effective windows. This manufacturing facility is also considered an industry leader. My fourth stop was at Heritage Oak, which specializes in red and white oak flooring along with wood molding for Lowe’s across the country. Only four years old, this successful company employs over 100 people, making it one of Sarcoxie’s biggest employers. Our last stop was Bemis in Joplin, which produces food packaging for such companies as Kraft, Heinz Ketchup and Mott’s fruit juices. 

One thing came through loud and clear, the economy has improved exponentially over the last year, which has led to more jobs for folks here in the Ozarks. 

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