Gov. Mark Dayton may have proclaimed Oct. 1-7 Manufacturing Week in Minnesota, but that isn't stopping Detroit Lakes from getting on the bandwagon a little late and hosting a Tour of Manufacturing event Wednesday, Oct. 24 and Thursday, Oct. 25.
"We haven't done this (event) since 2016," said Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Johnston, excited that they are still able to hold the event during Manufacturing Month.
Detroit Lakes has hosted a tour of manufacturing facilities a few times over the years, but this time it's bigger and better, stretching over two days because so many companies were interested in participating.
Five manufacturers will open their doors to the public over the two days, but Johnston says it's still important for people to be aware of the dates and times, as each company will only be open for tours on certain days.
On Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., TEAM Industries in Audubon and Action Fabricating Inc. will be hosting tours. Then, on Thursday, Oct. 25 from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., SJE Rhombus, BTD Manufacturing, Inc., and Lakeshirts, Inc. will be hosting their tours.
"You need to know which businesses are open which day," stressed Johnston, adding that other than knowing the where and when, all the tours are free and open to the public.
"They just choose which businesses they want to go to. Each tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour, so if they want to see them all, they have to plan ahead," said Johnston, adding that anyone who wants to see every business on Thursday should start right at 2 p.m. to catch all three.
While the event is open to anyone, including children, Johnston wanted to remind people that these are industrial sites. Safety equipment like goggles will be available for those partaking in the tours; however, people should also come prepared by wearing close-toed shoes and no loose clothing.
"But families are welcome," added Johnston.
Johnston says area schools are encouraged to call the businesses and set up tours earlier in the day on Wednesday and Thursday. She says teachers are also encouraged to partake if they are unable to bring their class.
"This event serves many purposes," said Johnston, stressing the educational factor, though friends and family of employees are also encouraged to come check out "what's happening behind those walls."
Johnston says the event is also a great chance for people to come see what's new with many of the manufacturing businesses in the area, like seeing the renovations Lakeshirts has made to their facility.
Gov. Dayton declared the first week of October as Manufacturing Week, hoping to bring awareness to the industry, which has been struggling to find and retain workers. Local manufacturers have been working with area schools to promote their jobs, though the issue is still far from fixed. Giving a behind-the-scenes look at these companies will hopefully familiarize the public with what exactly it means to work in manufacturing and encourage people to think about a job in the field.