Scores of Minnesota manufacturers are hosting students this week during Minnesota Manufacturing Week to stimulate interest in critical industries that also pay above average.

They included two growing North Minneapolis makers located within a couple blocks of each other: Unison Comfort Technologies, a builder of heating-and-cooling systems that can be as big as a small house for commercial installations; and H&B Elevators, a maker of passenger elevators, from U.S. Bank Stadium to a skyscraper in Dubai.

Human Resource Manager Tara Thurs of Unison, said the company employs 345 people, and is looking for 30 more at beginning wages that range from $15.44 an hour to more than $22, plus benefits at a company that operates three shifts.

About 55 local high school students will visit Unison and nearby H&B on Friday for tours and lunch.

"We have more openings than applicants," Thurs said.

Gov. Mark Dayton, in proclaiming "Manufacturing Week," which spills into related activities all month throughout Minnesota, said the "economic impact manufacturing has on the economy is hard to overstate."
Manufacturing represents one in nine jobs, supports a payroll of $21 billion; and contributed over $49.2 billion to the state's economy last year.

Minnesota's manufacturers, from medical-technology to food processing, have been challenged to attract sufficient interest from young people in what traditionally was thought of as dirty-and-dangerous jobs.

Minnesota firms such as Proto Labs, Uponor, Cambria, Modern Tool, Dotson Iron Castings, Jones Metal Products, Michael Foods and others seek to dispel old myths with information about safe operations, computer-driven technology that has replaced back-breaking work and above-average compensation.

On average, state factory jobs paid $65,728 in 2017, said Commissioner Shawntera Hardy of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

"That's over $9,500 higher than the typical job in Minnesota," she said.

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