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There are few phrases that give workers pause like “tech-driven manufacturing.” After all, with wild doomsday scenarios like robots taking all the jobs, it’s easy to see this emerging field as a bad thing. But tech-driven manufacturing is anything but bad—it’s actually quite positive—and not just for workers, but for businesses and consumers, too.
It may seem counterintuitive that increasing reliance upon technology is a good thing, but tech-driven manufacturing allows workers more freedom to focus on less monotonous and more important aspects of their jobs, making them more efficient. This in turn decreases costs to your business, which translates to savings for your end users: your customers.
If you’re ready to automate your manufacturing processes but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 states for tech manufacturing–states with a skilled workforce that’s already using automation to create products–right here in America.
If you search any top 10 list for manufacturing (tech-driven or otherwise), there are a few states that come up repeatedly. Ohio is consistently in top 10s, and often in top fives. That’s because this “rust belt” state has a long history of manufacturing and a skilled workforce to put its money where its mouth is. In fact, one-in-eight workers in the state of Ohio toils in manufacturing, making it the third-largest state for any kind of manufacturing in the United States. It is that reputation for excellence along with the state’s heavily pro-manufacturing business climate that has earned Ohio significant investment in the technology-driven manufacturing sector.
After losing upwards of a million jobs (including many in the manufacturing industry) between 2000 and 2013, there were some who considered Michigan down for the count. The state, which always had a predominately higher rate of manufacturing jobs than anywhere else in the country, suddenly had a higher unemployment rate than anywhere else in the country, too. But thanks to investments in technology and in workforce training, the state is quickly making a manufacturing comeback and is ready for the future. Despite its history with hands-on manufacturing, Michigan is working with local schools and training organizations such as Detroit-based Grand Circus to train new and already-skilled workers to run the technology-driven machines of the future. Married with a fast-growing tech sector, Michigan is on the brink of the tech driven manufacturing revolution.
The Lone Star State has the benefit of an unparalleled pro-business climate, including no corporate or personal income tax, and numerous tax exemptions including sales tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment. It also has the benefit of a highly skilled manufacturing workforce and a burgeoning supply of up-and-coming college students to staff the incoming technology-driven jobs of the future. Plus, thanks to its ample supply of natural resources like oil reserves and wind farms, Texas has the energy to power all kinds of manufacturing operations.
Already well-known as the tech center of the globe, California is becoming a powerhouse for technology-driven manufacturing, too. With companies such as Tesla and a newly booming manufacturing sector in the Oakland area, the state is set to become a leader in the tech driven manufacturing space. California’s only caveat to dominating this space is its comparatively high costs of living and doing business in the Golden State, but these costs may be easily overcome thanks to the highly skilled tech workforce already in place.
With more than 180 aerospace-related manufacturers and more than 250 automotive-related manufacturers in South Carolina, The Palmetto State is a natural choice for technology driven manufacturing operations. Home to the likes of Volvo, Bridgestone and BMW just to name a few, South Carolina boasts a workforce that is no stranger to technology or to hard work. Plus, with many education initiatives in place such as the Greenville Tech Foundation, South Carolina is working diligently to not only attract younger manufacturing workers but to bring longstanding workforce members up to speed.
Home to Boeing, GE and Hitachi, Florida is no stranger to technology-driven manufacturing. In fact, Florida is home to more than 19,000 factories that employ 331,000 manufacturing workers across the Sunshine State. In an effort to keep their workforce competitive, the state has developed workforce partnerships such as the Florida High Tech Corridor Talent Forum, which brings technology-driven business leaders together with educational institutes to ensure the students of today are learning the skills of tomorrow.
Already home to a booming auto industry, housing the likes of Hyundai, Mercedes Benz and Honda, Alabama includes as its top industries aerospace, food distribution, metals and many more diverse types of manufacturing. To keep workers competitive, the state developed programs such as Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) that provides workforce training services free of charge for both employers and trainees. The state is also home to the Alabama Technology Network (ATN), which is part of the Alabama Community College System. The ATN program works in conjunction with schools to ensure students are taught the most current and useful curriculum to make them competitive in the manufacturing marketplace.
With the 2012-launched Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and initiatives such as the Georgia Center of Innovation for Manufacturing, the Peach State is pulling out all the stops to train its workforce in tech-driven manufacturing. Already home to Honeywell, Coca Cola and numerous other manufacturers, Georgia is hoping to revive the U.S. textile industry with the use of its own creation: smart “Sewbots” or robots that can sew a t-shirt in about 30 seconds and can fully automate clothing manufacturing to the levels of overseas competitors—but without the labor.
Home to the second largest automobile manufacturing economy in the United States, Indiana is the only state to have manufacturing plants for Subaru, Honda and Toyota within the same state. The auto industry employs more than 128,000 Hoosiers–and 93,000 of those jobs have been added since 2009. But it’s not all auto manufacturing. Indiana is also home to Bosch, Thyssenkrupp and Futaba just to name a few. In fact, Indiana is so manufacturing-heavy that one-in-five Indianans is already working in the advanced manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing is a $20 billion plus a year industry in the state of Utah, with more salaries paid to manufacturing workers than any other industry besides government. Experts credit the state’s low taxes and friendly business climate for making the state a haven for new and emerging businesses, but Utah to its credit also tries to keep workers current on the latest manufacturing technologies. Case in point: Salt Lake Community College recently opened the 121,000-square-foot Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center to help support local manufacturers by training college students in advanced manufacturing before they ever set foot in the workforce.
With so many states ramping up their workforce training in advanced manufacturing, new and expanding businesses have their pick of sites to choose from, but these 10 are leading the pack with their workforces and pro-business atmospheres.