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2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Employers Are Upgrading for Growth

Posted 4:00 AM by

With ready capital and an appetite for expansion, employers in Indiana’s largest industry sector are poised to invest in a strategy that will fuel growth and help them address the ongoing workforce shortage: automation.

The 2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Upgrading for Growth reveals that the manufacturing sector is in the process of increasing capital investments, with a large share of investment dollars going into automation and technology.

Download a full copy of the report

“Manufacturers are seeing opportunities for growth, and they can’t wait for workers to show up to make things happen,” said survey co-author Steve Jones, professor of finance at the IU Kelley School of Business on IUPUI’s campus. “By investing in automation, they can reduce their reliance on the available labor pool and maintain Indiana’s place in the competitive global marketplace.”

The annual manufacturing survey – authored by faculty from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, commissioned by Katz, Sapper & Miller, and promoted by the Indiana Manufacturers Association and Conexus Indiana – is designed to assess the state of Indiana's manufacturing industry and provide insights into management choices made by manufacturing companies across the state.

Respondents to this year’s survey reflect views from rural to urban Indiana communities, and industries ranging from industrial equipment, automotive, aerospace/defense, packaging, high-tech, and healthcare.

“Our clients are expressing what we heard from the survey respondents: Their financial metrics look good, but they’re still challenged to operate at full potential because of the shortage of available workers,” said Jason Patch, partner-in-charge of Katz, Sapper & Miller’s Manufacturing and Distribution Services Group. “With automation more affordable and reliable than ever, it offers an increasingly attractive solution.”

Employers are not, however, seeing automation as the answer to all of their problems. In fact, the growth in automation and a more technological workplace ultimately will require more skilled workers, so the grooming and attracting of a new workforce must continue to be a priority. In addition, they recognize that factors related to national political debates could roll back momentum if they aren’t handled correctly.

“Manufacturers feel healthcare costs, corporate taxes, and the general regulatory environment are a drag on growth,” said survey co-author Mark Frohlich, an associate professor of operations management at IU’s Kelley School of Business. “In fact, more than 60 percent of survey respondents believe a lower corporate tax rate is necessary for American manufacturers to compete up to their global potential.”

“There’s a lot of general optimism, but a lot of it depends on Washington coming through with needed reforms,” added Jones.  

The 2017 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: Upgrading for Growth includes valuable data for the manufacturing community as well as service providers and economic development officials.

Download a full copy of the report

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Katz, Sapper & Miller’s Manufacturing and Distribution Services Group provides traditional tax compliance and assurance services, but what sets us apart is the entrepreneurial spirit. Our strategic solutions will make your company more efficient, competitive and profitable. Learn more.

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