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Industry Roundtables

The Economic committee has been holding a series of Industry Roundtables throughout 2016. The roundtable in 2016 includes food and dairy industry, manufacturing industry, technology and Tourism.

The goal of the J2G Roundtables is to assemble a small sample of regional industry leaders to learn from them the challenges and opportunities they face as a business and industry. The intent is to identify actions we as a regional community can take to ensure their industry “thrives” here.

Food & Dairy Roundtable

March 1st, 2016


  • Elaine Garry
  • Walt Ling
  • Tim Penny

Roundtable Participants:
  • Hormel - Judy Callahan
  • Albert Lea Select Foods & Quality Pork Processors – Nate Jansen
  • Schumacher Farms - Kurt Schumacher
  • King Farms – Jimmie-John King
  • Plainview Milk Products - Troy Gascoigne
Summation of Roundtable
  • Great area for farming and dairy
  • Proximity to supply chains is important
  • Good infrastructure
  • Access to good medical care
  • Much concern about finding skilled employees.
  • Interest in training programs and internships
  • Need to help youth develop interest in careers in the industry
  • Look at employment of spouses from Mayo Clinic as a benefit
  • Chamber of commerce is good for networking of larger businesses
  • Smaller businesses are more networking with neighbors and friends
  • Focus on permitting and inheritance
  • J2G could help with education of consumers and employees and legislation
How can Journey to Growth provide support?
  • Legislation: Ease burden and stress on food processing industry.
  • Branding: farm country, Mayo, growing food, growing family, etc.
  • Education/Workforce: AIM initiatives/programs. Vo-Tech. More connections.
  • Talent retention and attraction – Young families and boomerang; keeping a lifeline out to those young people that left but might want to come back some day.

Manufacturing Roundtable

May 31st, 2016


  • Elaine Garry
  • Walt Ling
  • Tim Penny

Roundtable Participants:
  • Angie Bowman – Bowman Tool & Machining, Rochester
  • Kris Pierce – ALAMCO Wood Products, LLC, Albert Lea
  • Jesse Smith – Miller Ingenuity, Winona
  • Steve Cremer – Harmony Enterprises Inc., Harmony
  • Eric Miller – Crenlo, Rochester
  • Lonnie Otterson – McNeilus/Oshkosh Corporation Company, Dodge Center
Summation of Roundtable
  • Manufacturing is thriving in southeast Minnesota
  • Internally and Externally people are unaware how much manufacturing lives in our area
  • Good infrastructure for manufacturing businesses
  • Use local supply chains when possible but not always feasible based on product and customer preference
  • Affordable housing is a serious issue
  • Skillsets such as blueprint reading, etc. are a struggle
  • Diversity in workforce is important – immigrant and women are a great resource
  • High interest in internship program that could share interns among manufacturing businesses in the region
  • Benefits here are important and competitive. Not just health, but childcare, transportation subsidization, etc.
  • Constantly working to keep health benefits attractive
  • Area is rural with access to the Twin Cities, Chicago, etc. Allows numerous options
How can Journey to Growth provide support?
  • Consider a conference that highlights manufacturing industry to include
  • legislators, educators, and industry leaders both locally and abroad.
  • Branding and promoting as a region
  • Continue to pull everyone together with dialogue such as roundtables. Important we all learn about each other within the region
  • Help educate those outside of our region our important role in the economy

The next industry roundtable will be Tourism on October 13th, 2016.