Manufacturing Week 2020: Evolving to Meet the Future Virtually
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Manufacturing Week 2020: Evolving to Meet the Future Virtually


Press Release: September 30, 2020

Pivoting: it’s becoming the new dance step of 2020. Southeast Service Cooperative (SSC) has teamed up with 41 community organizations, schools, and local businesses and are pleased to announce a pivot to a virtual event for Southeast Manufacturing Week. This event is designed to give exposure to middle school and high school students to careers in the manufacturing field in an effort to cultivate students’ passion in this industry for regional long-term economic sustainability.

Due to restrictions relating to COVID-19, this year’s event, traditionally held the first week of October, will be a departure from the usual student field trips to visit manufacturing companies for on-site tours. However, teachers and their classes will be able to learn about at least 15 local and regional manufacturing companies, representing a variety of segments of the manufacturing industry, through pre-recorded tours and interviews that have been placed into the FutureForwardTM web-based portal and can be accessed on demand.

Developed by SSC to connect educators and students to local employers for experiential hands-on and virtual learning experiences, FutureForwardTM is the vehicle that provides students’ opportunities for career awareness and exploration during Manufacturing Week and continuing through the school year.

Schools from all over southern and eastern Minnesota will take part in Manufacturing Week through use of the FutureForwardTM platform from their classrooms and/or devices. 

“Because of participation from Minnesota manufacturing companies, and due to the virtual setting of this event, students will actually be able to have increased exposure to manufacturing companies this year than in years past,” said Sarah Ness, SSC Program Manager. “We all miss the in-person events, but we have definitely found a model that allows students to learn about careers in manufacturing without taking any health risks and eliminating barriers like transportation.”

Manufacturing is among the strongest sectors of Minnesota’s economy, contributing over $52 billion to the state economy, and accounting for almost 15% of the state’s private gross domestic product. According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), manufacturing accounted for over 15% of total employment in Southeast Minnesota, making it the second largest industry in the region, behind health care and social assistance. “It’s important to keep our talent local.” Bob Hanson, Spring Grove Soda Pop.

For more information on FutureForwardTM, please visit:

For more information on Manufacturing Week 2020, please contact:
Sarah Ness, Program Manager, SSC,, (507) 281-6678 

Southeast Service Cooperative has operated since 1976. It is a public, non-profit cooperative of over 100 member schools, local governments, and non-profits impacting over 82,000 students and almost 18,000 employees in eleven counties to mobilize resources and add value through collaboration. To learn more about the Southeast Service Cooperative, visit