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The former Bonner Mill site is the home of several manufacturing companies, such as KettleHouse Brewery, Coaster Pedicab, Northwest Factory Finishes and Alcom.

There are 23,500 Montanans employed in the manufacturing industry, which includes everything from craft beer brewing to aluminum trailer makers.

On Friday, the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is hosting a free Manufacturing Day 2018 event at Northwest Factory Finishes, a company at 8941 Bonner Mill Road in Bonner.

The event, which runs from 3-6 p.m. and is open to the public but with limited space, is meant to highlight success stories and the importance of the industry.

“I’m going to get personal with it,” explained Shane Cantrell, a business advisor with the MMEC. “If you have a family in Montana and care about future of youth and our children in Montana, for them to have a career in Montana rather than having to move out of state, manufacturing is a viable option."

He said anyone looking for better pay should consider manufacturing work.

"Manufacturing jobs pay 17 percent higher wages than the average Montana job," Cantrell noted. "Manufacturing is good for the rest of our economy, it’s not isolated.”

He said every one manufacturing job in Montana supports 2.58 additional jobs on average, meaning the industry supports 37,130 more jobs in the state.

“The other myth people have about manufacturing is they think it’s dirty,” Cantrell said. “They think it’s a sweatshop environment. But you have to understand a lot of these jobs are very clean jobs. A lot of my clients, you could eat off the floor.”

And manufacturing doesn’t have to be physical labor, he said.

“You could be a (computer numerical control) operator, an engineer, in sales and marketing, there’s a lot of different functions people don’t know about,” he said. “Manufacturing people don’t know how to tell their story very well. A printing shop like Alpha Graphics in Missoula is manufacturing. It’s really diverse.”

Britt Fred, the president of Northwest Factory Finishes, will give a tour of the facility. The company makes pre-finished building materials and employs more than 40 people. They ship to customers all over the country, which means new dollars are coming into the community.

LC Staffing, a jobs-placement company in Missoula, will show a video and the keynote speaker will be Lamont Kotter of Blackhawk Vista Outdoor. His company is based in Manhattan, outside Bozeman, and makes police equipment and gun accessories. There will be a social networking event after the speeches.

Cantrell said space is limited to about 100 people, and he asks that people register at (note that is the number ‘zero’ not the letter ‘o’ in that web address).

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