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CEO, Missouri Association of Manufacturers
CEO, Missouri Association of Manufacturers

2016 Manufacturing Outlook: Kim Inman

Posted online

Kim Inman has her eye on workforce development lag as MAM aims to corner the market in emerging areas, such as nuclear supply.

2016 Projection Emerging technology changes will dramatically affect the industry as manufacturers come together in a new way.

SBJ: What challenges are facing manufacturing in 2016?
Kim Inman: We find that manufacturers are advancing faster than the educators are, due in part to not having the funding or the resources to teach things like 3-D printing, mechatronics, the Internet of things, next generation robotics and artificial intelligence. That’s a big issue because it feeds another big issue, which is workforce development and training. Workforce is one of the most critical issues across all manufacturers right now. There are a few companies that are going out and partnering with educators to develop areas where they have a shortage, like Boeing, Caterpillar and Leggett & Platt or the stainless steel industry here in Springfield. Some of those companies are hitting on specific targets, but it doesn’t fix the overall issue we’re looking at. I think 2.7 million people are due to retire in manufacturing between 2015 and 2025. That’s a big workforce gap to make up and you lose a lot of knowledge that goes with that.

SBJ: Are local efforts, such as GO CAPS – the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies – or colleges developing specific programs the solution?
Inman: I think we have to be careful about dividing too much. I think the GO CAPS programs, if we could get all the schools to adopt them, would help. I do know (schools) aren’t getting funding for it. They have to take funds they’ve already got and redirect them. They’re taking risk by doing it, which I applaud them for. But then you’ve got other places that are giving funding to create programs, and there are so many across the U.S. right now it’s a constantly moving target we’re going after. SkillsUSA has Snap-On. We’ll have SkillSource, which will be part of getting funding and going after grants to help Missouri manufacturers. But we’re developing a new program called DreamSource – discover resources, engage academics and master your future. We have partners – I’m not at liberty to say who they are right now – and it will be developed through private funding. It may take a while to complete but if we can bring all these large manufacturers together to fund the program then we’re united instead of divided and each manufacturer has to develop their own program.

SBJ: What areas are poised for growth this year?
Inman: I don’t see this coming year as being a dramatic increase or decrease for defense because production is still going on, but 2017 is when you will start to see it declining, when they start ramping down the production of F-18s. In the meantime, Boeing is ramping up to build the new fighter jets and 777X, but there’s a three-year gap in between the build. The in-market opportunities the Department of Defense has documented right now are increases to commercial aviation at 5.8 percent, unmanned aerial vehicles at 10 to 15 percent, autonomous vehicles, 26.4 percent – and think about how many car manufacturers we have in the state.

But there’s another area we’re looking at: nuclear supply. That’s hundreds of trillions that’s going to be spent and there are already hundreds of contracts for new nuclear energy power plants around the world in places like South Korea and Saudi Arabia. We’re working right now to see if we can provide the parts for the plants. We have about a year to get that in, and if we can fill that gap and we can get enough manufacturers interested we can try to get those contracts in this region. We’ve got a perfect area right here with all the stainless steel manufacturers. The international side of business is going to be a major area of growth for manufacturers.

SBJ: How can the industry take advantage of that demand?
Inman: I think one of the answers is that we’re a statewide entity so we have to look at everything we get involved in on a statewide level. We’re developing districts – northwest, southwest, northeast and southeast – because the needs in Kansas City are different than St. Louis, and the needs in the southwest are different than the needs in the southeast. We want to hear those voices and we’re going to develop governing bodies – district impact boards –and let them tell us, “here’s our needs.”

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