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Registration Opens for the Manufacturing Matters! Conference

Registration for the Manufacturing Matters! conference, the premier event for Wisconsin’s small and midsize manufacturing leaders, is open. Last year’s event sold out, was kicked-off by Governor Scott Walker, and was very highly rated by the more than 450 attendees, including the C-level executives that made up half the attendees.

Held on the same day as the Manufacturer of the Year Awards, on Thursday, February 27, 2014, the conference provides top-level content led by national experts in 21 separate sessions.

Rich Meeusen, chairman, CEO and president of Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. and a driving force behind an effort to create a global water technology hub in southeastern Wisconsin, will be the keynote speaker for the conference, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee.

Buckley Brinkman, CEO of the WMEP said, "This conference provides timely, relevant and thought-provoking content that delivers solid information that manufacturers can use to improve their businesses. Many Wisconsin manufacturing leaders will share their insights in sessions on Additive Manufacturing, the 80/20 Process, The Skills Gap, Supply Chain Management and much more - this is our best program yet."

The conference features sessions led by national and internationally recognized experts including:

  • Scott Paul, author and president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Paul frequently appears on television news shows and regularly blogs at Huffington Post, CNBC, and Industry Week.
  • Pat Panchak, editor of Industry Week and the group content director, Manufacturing & Supply Chain for Penton Media Inc.
  • Ronald Mascitelli, a project management professional who is the founder and president of Technology Perspectives. Mascitelli is a recognized leader in the development of advanced methods for project management and product development.
  • Seth Davies, managing partner of Competitive Solutions, Inc., a leader in helping companies build a direct link between tactical operational goals and strategic direction.

Among the many sessions at the conference will be a panel discussion focusing on the perceived skills gap in the manufacturing sector. Panelists will include Marc Levine, a professor in the history department at UWM and senior fellow and founding director of the school’s Center for Economic Development. Levine authored a controversial research report released earlier this year entitled “The Myth of the Skills Gap in Wisconsin.” The report concluded that the state faces a jobs gap, not a skills gap.

Levine will appear on the panel with two manufacturing leaders, including Mary Isbister, president of GenMet Corp., a Mequon-based custom metal fabricator. Isbister, who serves as chairwoman of the WMEP’s board of directors, insists that the skills gap is very much a real problem for her firm. Buckley Brinkman, CEO/Executive Director of the WMEP, will moderate the discussion.

Manufacturing Matters! attendees will have ample networking opportunities and be invited to the chairwoman’s reception on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is the premier sponsor of the event and is leading a track that highlights the many resources available to manufacturers in the state.

The conference consistently receives very high evaluations from attendees. At the 2013 conference held earlier this year, 84 percent of respondents to a post-conference survey said they would definitely attend the conference again and the remaining 16 percent said they would probably attend the conference again.

2013 Conference Stats:

  • 50% C-level Manufacturing Executives (Including Owners/Founders)
  • 25% Manager/Supervisor
  • 117 manufacturing companies represented
  • 56 companies sent employees to the conference for the first time
  • Survey: 71% visited exhibits
  • Survey: 59% learned about a new product at the exhibits

For more information, contact Debra Oakes ( or 608.729.4012), director of marketing.

About the WMEP

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a private, nonprofit organization committed to the growth and success of Wisconsin manufacturers. The WMEP receives financial support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The WMEP also partners with many public and private organizations to serve Wisconsin manufacturers. In the past five years, the WMEP has helped manufacturers generate more than $1.2 billion in economic impact through improvements in technology, productivity and profits, and created or saved nearly 4,400 state manufacturing jobs.

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