Submitted photos##Examples of the diverse examples of traded sector jobs in and around McMinnville.
Submitted photos##Examples of the diverse examples of traded sector jobs in and around McMinnville.

Lacey Dykgraaf: Unsung economic heroes

McMinnville receives a lot of attention for its acclaimed food and wine scene, its top-rated main street and the fact it continually feels like a small town despite an ever growing population. Appreciation is often bestowed on the quirky, the quaint and the vineyards that surround the city. I understand the desire to focus on these things when asking friends to visit, using these examples to explain what makes this town unique and a good place to live. But the truth is none of this exists without a strong traded sector base.

Traded sector describes any business that creates goods or services used or consumed outside the region. Within the traded sector is manufacturing — the creation of goods on a larger scale, often with machinery. Many wineries in and surrounding McMinnville are included in the list of traded sector companies, as are breweries and even local coffee shops that roast their own beans. While these traded sector businesses are important to sustain the city economically, manufacturing within McMinnville makes all the difference.

Manufacturers are vital for our economic health because when selling goods outside the town, state and country, they bring new revenues into the community. This money is then used to support people who work secondary jobs — those that support the community through services and goods that are not exported. This might be a local grocery store, a doctor, a clothing boutique or gym.

While manufacturing and traded sector businesses bring new money in, secondary jobs further benefit the economy by circulating this new money. For example, money received for exporting a piece of rebar is used to pay an employee who has dinner at a local restaurant or who purchases a car. These services are important aspects of local business, but they do not generate new wealth within the community like manufacturing does.

Guest Writer

Lacey Dykgraaf is the marketing specialist at the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership. She lives in McMinnville and enjoys board games, reading, and coffee shops.

It might be tempting to suggest that secondary jobs could continually support other secondary jobs, meaning that no new money needs to come into a community because it could just circulate the wealth it already has. This is not the case. There will always be components of the economy that we cannot buy locally. So without a constant flow of outside revenue accumulating from manufacturing, eventually there will be very little money left to circulate.

Now, let’s discuss manufacturing in McMinnville. As of 2014, McMinnville had 85 established manufacturers within the town’s vicinity. Within these 85 manufacturers there were 2,299 people employed with a total payroll of $108,724,078. While this payroll is an important aspect of what creates economic health, this isn’t the only factor. Their employees are supporting secondary jobs, manufacturing businesses also circulate this money by buying from local companies and contributing to a variety of causes and organizations in the community.

Take Solid Form Fabrication and Meggitt Polymers & Composites, which, together with Davison Auto Parts and Slater Machine & Tools,  took it upon themselves to give Yamhill-Carlton High School a new workshop that allows high schoolers to understand and practice the possibilities working in the traded sector provides. It also entices students to work on projects for local businesses. Another example is Betty Lou’s, Inc., continually giving to the Yamhill Community Action Partnership Regional Food Bank. Or you could look at APTech’s sponsorship of a local robotics team.

A quick glance at the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) website will show you our mission is “to provide leadership and assistance for desired long-term sustainable economic vitality for the McMinnville community.” A lot of this involves conversations with manufacturers. As a young professional, I’ve been surprised by not only how many manufacturers are in McMinnville, but the care that goes into every element. The two main characteristics I find when talking to local company leaders are a focus on efficiency and caring for employees.

Many manufacturing companies use lean manufacturing principles to stay ahead of competition and to get more output at a lower cost. They boast a proportionally higher growth in sales and production than in number of new employees, but this fact doesn’t mean less money in the community. One thing I’ve heard in many facilities: even if a machine is brought in, no one gets fired. Machines require ongoing maintenance, repair or new configurations. When efficiency improves or a new machine is implemented, employees are retrained or relocated throughout the company.

We should not be afraid of this efficiency. The machines are not coming to take away our jobs. Instead, by using lean, manufacturers in McMinnville are better able to compete on a global scale. The more productivity a company can create, the more money they will bring in, and the more growth and higher wage jobs with it. The fact that manufacturers here are embedding lean principles is good news for the local economy.

Back to MEDP’s role in “economic vitality.” It involves recruiting new advanced manufacturing, helping advanced manufacturing expand or relocate, and just generally being a comrade to businesses within or looking to come into McMinnville. Working with MEDP has shown me that McMinnville makes a good case for a manufacturing plant to set up shop here. With low electricity and water rates and organizations that work hard to help businesses grow, it makes sense that we have over 80 manufacturers who exist and conduct business here. But, I also find that manufacturing as a whole is not celebrated enough for all the good it does for the community.

On October 7, MEDP will host McMinnville | MADE day. The event, in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day, offers residents a chance to learn more about what the manufacturers in their backyard are creating and to celebrate our local companies. Look for further details of the event in an upcoming issue of the News-Register. I invite you to show appreciation and gain some knowledge about the sometimes unsung economic heroes of McMinnville.