Ricketts fetes expansion at Lyons manufacturing plant

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, third from the right, took part in a ribbon-cutting recently for the latest expansion at Brehmer Manufacturing in Lyons.

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LYONS, Neb. ­­— Brehmer Manufacturing in Lyons celebrated its latest expansion in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day on Oct. 5. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts was in attendance to take part in the ribbon cutting on Brehmer’s new 14,400 square foot manufacturing space.

The nearly $900,000 project also included warehouse relocation, road and utility improvements and the acquisition of additional equipment. This expansion includes an additional 10 employees.

The funding for the project included Community Development Block Grant funds through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, a loan provided through First Northeast Bank and company funds.

Brehmer Manufacturing began in Oakland in 1974, and relocated to Lyons in 1983. The business has grown to 50 employees with sales in 27 countries on five continents. Its current business units are comprised of fertilizer tender boxes, tire recycling equipment, swine equipment, fitness and recreational equipment, truck equipment, used truck sales and custom manufacturing.

“It is a pleasure to be able to celebrate Brehmer’s latest expansion,” said Patty Plugge, executive director of Burt County Economic Development Corp. “With their innovation and local workforce, we look forward to continued growth.”

“Manufacturing is Nebraska’s second largest industry, behind agriculture and ahead of tourism.” Ricketts said. “Throughout the month we will be celebrating our manufacturers, who are making world-class equipment and growing great job opportunities across our state.”

From 2010-2015, the state added more than 11,000 manufacturing jobs, with an annual industry output of nearly $14 billion in products and equipment. Manufacturing employment increased 4.5 percent year-over-year in July of this year, the biggest growth rate since August 1995. According to the governor’s office, it was the largest driver for the state’s 1.7 percent year-over-year job growth recorded the same month.

An estimated 1,600-plus manufacturing firms currently employ over 97,000 Nebraskans, including nearly 10 percent of the non-farm workforce. The industry was one of the keys to the state’s back-to-back years of one-million-plus non-farm jobs in 2016 and 2017.

“Manufacturing is increasingly a high-skill, high-wage industry that is going to continue to produce great opportunities for the Nebraska workforce today and for the next generation,” said Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska Chamber. “Manufacturing month is about recognizing those opportunities, while committing to laying a foundation for future growth.”

While experts say manufacturing will continue to be a high-potential growth sector for Nebraska, they emphasize the need to accommodate an increasing demand for highly skilled, highly trained manufacturing professionals. In 2015, the governor launched the Developing Youth Talent Initiative to spearhead Nebraska’s workforce development across the manufacturing and information technology sectors.

Administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, DYTI provides grants that encourage and financially support partnerships between Nebraska manufacturing and IT firms and public school systems. These partnerships result in educational curriculum designed to engage 7th and 8th grade students in manufacturing and IT exploration programs. In doing so, students gain new knowledge about great career opportunities awaiting them in tomorrow’s manufacturing industry.

“We’re focused not only on recruiting the employers that will bring great jobs and high wages to our state,” said DED Director Dave Rippe, “but also preparing the next generation to reap the benefits of those jobs. To date, we’ve seen over 7,000 students across 23 school districts impacted by the DYTI program. And those students are acquiring new knowledge and new perspectives on manufacturing, becoming more prepared for the tremendous career opportunities that await them.”