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William Morris Associate Editor

Volume 1, Issue 4 – October 2017


n few years ago, well after graduating high school and college, I realized something: I cannot remember any of my high school teachers ever talking to me about the opportunities of twoyear college or going directly to the workforce after graduation. Partly, I’m sure, this was because my teachers knew perfectly well that there was no point. I was bookish, smart (I like to think), thrived in the humanities and was born to middle-class professionals with graduate degrees. There was never any question that I was collegebound, and so it was. But it still seems odd to me looking back that I can’t recall it ever even being mentioned, and I can attest that many who go to four-year colleges have no business, and no real desire, to be there and invariably drop out by the end of the first year. I’ve been thinking about that a lot this month as I’ve interviewed and shadowed current and future manufacturing workers, educators and executives. The truth is, there are many career pathways available to young high school graduates in industry, some far more lucrative than getting an English degree. And with unemployment down below four percent, manufacturing is fighting alongside every other industry to snap up employable recruits. But Bob Bender, an industrial maintenance instructor at Riverland Community College, told me he still gets questions from parents about whether there will be good jobs if their son or daughter goes into manufacturing. Consider this issue of Forge Magazine our answer to that

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question, and it’s a resounding YES: manufacturing offers a massive variety of well-paying jobs right here in southern Minnesota. Even better, there are companies, programs and institutions a plenty eager to do whatever they can to widen the pipeline for people both young and not-so-young to enter the field. From Riverland to the Chamber of Commerce to the employers themselves, everyone wants to make sure local companies have the workforce they need to stay strong and thrive. There’s always a lot going on in and around Steele County, and this issue brings fresh perspectives on everything from early childhood education to homebuying to the weekly farmers market. Everywhere you look, there are people making southern Minnesota a stronger economy and a healthier community. As always, don’t miss the latest hirings and recognition in Around the Water Cooler and numbers you can use in the Economic Dashboard. Follow along on our website as well as Twitter and Facebook, where you’ll see not just what’s in the magazine but more news relevant to you from around the region. And if you don’t see something you’d like, I’m always looking for reader feedback at Enjoy autumn, and see you again in December! William Morris is Associate Editor of Forge Magazine and covers business, government and courts for the Owatonna People’s Press. Contact him at

PUBLISHER: Tom Murray EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Jeffrey Jackson ASSOCIATE EDITOR: William Morris CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Lisa Cownie Autumn Van Ravenhorst PHOTOGRAPHERS: William Morris COVER DESIGN: Brendan Cox PAGE DESIGN: Tri M Graphics ADVERTISING MANAGER: Ginny Bergerson ADVERTISING SALES: Autumn Van Ravenhorst Kyle Shaw Rachel Goodwin Erin Rossow Kristie Biehn Pam DeMorett ADVERTISING ASSISTANT: Lisa Richmond ADVERTISING DESIGNERS: Kelly Kubista Nicole Gilmore Jenine Kubista CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Carol Harvey For editorial inquiries, contact William Morris at 507-444-2372 or For advertising inquiries, please call 507-444-2386 or email

FORGE Magazine is published by

Southern Minn Media 135 West Pearl St. Owatonna, MN 55060

Forge October 2017  
Forge October 2017