Posted on February 8th, 2017

In a new “manufacturing outlook” report focusing on the automotive and industrial sectors, AlixPartners observes that many of the labor-cost advantages associated with near-shoring may be lost if companies fail to spend more on automation in the future.
The consultancy notes that automation capabilities have improved dramatically, and implementation expenses have come down. As a consequence this kind of technology can help manufacturers augment—or entirely replace— functions previously performed entirely by humans.

“To exploit those technologies, manufacturers will 
likely have to make capital-intensive investments,” says Foster Finley, a managing director at AlixPartners in New York. “But they should understand, too, that automation cannot replace a human workforce.”
Instead, adds Finley, automation shifts the focus to a new set of critical skills.

“As automation technology becomes more available and more affordable, companies will have to adopt longer-term views on developing and retaining talent aligned with the tactical use of robotics,” he says.

The survey, which polled manufacturing and distribution companies in the U.S. and Western Europe, finds that 69% of respondents believe near shoring is a possible opportunity to meet demand from consumers, up from 40% in last year’s survey.

“This increase in near shoring has led to labor challenges, however” says Finley. “Many respondents are having a hard time filling roles like product engineers and frontline supervisors.”

Along with these labor issues, two-thirds of respondents said they plan to invest significantly in automation technologies.

“So what we may expect is more spend in human resources with higher salaries and other incentives, at the same time companies will place greater reliance on technology.”

Researchers note that automotive and electronics manufacturers have been the biggest adopters of automation technology thus far. But companies in other sectors—such as pharmaceuticals, instrumentation and measurement devices, medical equipment, and pulp and paper— will likely begin to shift more of their manufacturing capacity to robots in the coming years.

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor · February 7, 2017. (

About the AuthorPatrick Burnson, Executive EditorPatrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at

Posted on February 2nd, 2017

The Board of Education further expanded opportunities for Fort Zumwalt students to be college and career ready when they approved the latest version of the High School Career and Educational Planning Guide. Across the district, students grades 8-11 are working with parents and guidance counselors to set schedules for the next school year. The new guide expands Advanced Placement and college credit courses, which include a wide range of options, from chemistry and calculus to world history and language study. It also adds courses that will allow students to earn credit at Ranken Technical College or Cisco certification before graduation.

   The new partnership with Ranken will allow students who successfully complete Fort Zumwalt’s Metals III – Precision Machining or Metals III – Welding and Fabrication to take the appropriate Ranken assessment test. According to the newly approved course description guide, students who pass a written test proctored at Ranken would be eligible to take a hands-on skills test for a fee of $200. If a student successfully passes the skills test, the $200 would then be applied to first semester enrollment in Machining Principles or Fundamentals of Welding Technology, pending enrollment in Advanced Manufacturing Technology or Fabrication and Welding Technology. There would also be a required manufacturing internship through Ranken for students taking Machining Principles.

   "Fort Zumwalt is committed to having students college and/or career ready," says Jen Waters, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. "Our relationship with Ranken Technical School is a positive step in this direction. Students are able to take relevant course work in high school and are becoming well prepared for both higher ed and the job force. Joining forces with Ranken will allow students to earn credit at a fraction of the cost."
   Similarly, the district has a credit by assessment agreement with Ranken for certification with Cisco, a computer network hardware company that makes switches and routers. New IT Essentials classes would prepare students to take certification tests for a fee. Successful completion of the first class would allow students to take the Comptia A+ Certification test for a fee. A second level class might be added to provide the opportunity to become certified in maintaining and repairing the switches and routers. These professional certifications are the starting point for a career in Information Technology.

   Students in Fort Zumwalt’s Drafting III class also have the opportunity to take the SolidWorks CSWA exam, a professional certification test as their End-of-Course Exam, free of charge. Successful completion shows proficiency in 3D CAD modeling using SolidWorks. The test focuses on the application of design and engineering principles used in industry practices and standards. Students can include certification on resumes and job applications.
    Take a look inside our Engineering and Industrial Technology classrooms here.

Posted on January 24th, 2017

​Manufacturing is a major component of Missouri’s $293.4 billion economy. It represents 13.1 percent ($38.5 billion) of the 2015 Gross State Product (GSP). Nationally, manufacturing contributed 12.2 percent to GDP.

Missouri ranks among the top 20 states for manufacturing employment and capital expenditures. Missouri manufacturers spent $3.3 billion, in 2014, on plant improvements and new construction.

Manufacturing accounts for 11.3 percent of the state’s private sector employment: 261,328 jobs across 6,579 establishments. The industry has added 18,300 jobs since 2010, growing 1.5 percent per year over five years compared to the nation’s 1.4 percent growth rate over the same period. Wages continue to grow, statewide and nationally. Missouri’s 2015 manufacturing payroll totaled $14.7 billion, a $56,368 average wage. This is higher than the state’s $46,000 private sector wage.
​Location Quotient Analysis
Location Quotient (LQ) compares the regional share of an industry to the national share so that an LQ over 1 indicates sectors of employment concentration. Missouri, with an LQ of 1.09, has a greater share of its workers employed in the manufacturing sector than the nation as a whole. About 57 percent or 66 out of Missouri’s 115 counties have an LQ over one, demonstrating a greater specialization in manufacturing compared to the nation.
Economic Contribution
Manufacturing industries make a significant contribution to the Missouri economy, directly and indirectly. Direct contributions come from employment in manufacturing firms and the compensation paid to industry workers. Indirect benefits come from business to business transactions and from workers who spend their earnings on consumer goods and services.

Manufacturing’s contribution to the Missouri economy is measured in terms of jobs created, incomes earned and valueadded. Value-added, a measure of industry sales minus production costs, refers to an industry’s share of Gross State Product (GSP).

Multipliers are a summary statistic indicating the magnitude of an industry’s impact on the economy. For example, a multiplier of 1.9 means that for every $1 in value-added generated by manufacturing, the state’s GSP increases an additional $0.90; similarly, an employment multiplier of 2.8 means that for every job created in manufacturing, nearly two jobs would be created in other industries.
In 2015 Missouri had an estimated 6,579 manufacturing establishments that directly employed
261,328 workers, paid $21.9 billion in wages and salaries, and contributed $38.5 billion to the state’s gross product. The ripple effect was an increase of $36.1 billion in additional economic activity.

Manufacturing’s total impact— direct and indirect effects— on the state economy was $74.6 billion which represents 25.4 percent of Missouri’s gross domestic product. Manufacturing industries and indirect industries employed 735,479 workers paying about $43.8 billion in salaries.

Posted on December 21st, 2016

Wheels are in motion to expand St. Charles County's already dominate hub of technology and manufacturing sectors to include an aerospace and automotive innovation center. 

As reported in the St. Louis Business Journal, Greg Prestemon, President of the EDC Business and Community Partners, proposed to establish a new incubator facility in St. Charles County specifically for automotive and aerospace technology companies at a recent meeting of the St. Charles City Council.  “Helping entrepreneurs achieve continuing success has been at the forefront of our mission for over 25 years, and this new innovation center will facilitate long-term growth for our community,” said Prestemon.
Per a recent Key Industry Study conducted by Kansas City based MarksNelson, St. Charles County has the entrepreneurial ecosystem in place to start an innovation center.
The EDC currently incubates several manufacturing startups and is accepting applications for new manufacturing startups in the facility which will soon include a "Maker's Space".  
EDC Business and Community Partners continues to recruit and retain progressive companies that ultimately foster the growth of St. Charles County's economy, workforce, housing and education.
Visit our website to learn more on the benefits of growing a manufacturing business at the EDC.

Entrepreneurs across the St. Louis metro area have utilized EDC Business and Community Partners to launch, expand and relocate their businesses since 1990. As a catalyst for growth in St. Charles County, the EDC invests in and supports innovative businesses that cultivate economic advancement in the community.
For more information on manufacturing, aerospace and St. Charles County's economic growth, contact Greg Prestemon at 636.229.5281.

Posted on December 13th, 2016

​RB Manufacturing’s Human Resources Director Cindy Landrum with Site Director Ryan Richter
(holding plaque) surrounded by members of the St. Charles County Workforce Development Board: Janis Miller, Michael Sommer, Erin Williams, Michael Hurlbert and Mike Gavura.
In 1973, the population in St. Charles County was less than 100,000, the General Motors Assembly Plant was still making Corvettes in St. Louis City, Mid Rivers Mall didn’t exist, and Airwick built its first plastics extrusion plant off Highway 79 in the sleepy town of St. Peters.
Forty-three years later, the company is known as RB Manufacturing, a line of business within the British multinational consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser. Today, the company’s 30-acre campus in St. Peters is home to a 430,000-square-foot, highly automated facility. Some of the products RB Manufacturing owns and packages at this facility include Lysol, Resolve, Woolite, Finish, Lime Away, Old English, Rid-X and Glass Plus. The company employs approximately 450 in St. Peters and plans to expand its workforce to 615 in 2017.
This year, RB Manufacturing added a 27,000-square-foot expansion to its local facility. In nearby Premier 370 Business Park, its parent company soon will open a newly constructed 714,000-square-foot distribution center.
RB Manufacturing was honored at the December meeting of the St. Charles County Workforce Development Board for its history of growth and success in the community.
“Thanks to global companies like RB Manufacturing, Alpla and Nike IHM, there is a strong and growing plastics manufacturing sector in St. Charles County,” said Scott J. Drachnik, Director of the St. Charles County Department of Workforce & Business Development. “RB’s continued growth and success is another sign that manufacturing is alive and well in St. Charles County.”
For an overview of RB Manufacturing in St. Peters, watch
For more information about the local economy, workforce, and business growth assistance, contact the St. Charles County Department of Workforce & Business Development at 636-255-6060 or visit