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UW-Milwaukee - Center for Economic Development

Technical Assistance Report Abstract

The Milwaukee Foundry Industry Task Force: Background Report, April 1997, by Marc V. Levine


The foundry industry is one of metropolitan Milwaukee's most important employers. Through 1995, the ferrous and non-ferrous foundries employed 7,400 workers at 61 foundries in the Greater Milwaukee area. The Milwaukee foundry industry, particularly non-ferrous foundries, has demonstrated its competitiveness and job creation potential in the years since the devastating, restructuring recession of 1981-1983. Indeed, employment performance in the Milwaukee foundry industry significantly exceeded national trends in the industry since the early 1980s. Having proven its strength and stability over time compared to the industry nationally, the Milwaukee foundry industry is diversifying its operations and incorporating new innovations and product-lines into its manufacturing processes in order to expand its market further. In short, although Milwaukee foundries face a tough competitive environment, with relentless pressures to reduce their costs of production, there are new growth opportunities in this industry, which remains an important source of high-wage manufacturing jobs for Milwaukee-area workers.

After analyzing all sectors of the Milwaukee economy, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development (UWMCED) concludes that the foundry industry should be one of the "sectoral targets" for local policymakers interested in job creation and retention in the region. Public and private resources should be coordinated, particularly in the area of labor force training and retention, to maximize employment opportunities and long-term competitiveness in this industry.

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