What does the future hold for manufacturing in WI?

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Posted Thursday, November 5, 2015 -- 10:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- Should we consider Wisconsin a blue-collar state? The question comes on the heels of Oscar Mayer announcing it will close affecting 1,000 workers.

While one economic expert warns this may be the tip of the iceberg, a manufacturing expert NBC15 spoke with begs to differ.

Just a few miles away from the site where everything changed for 1000 employees on Wednesday, lies a spark of hope for those hammering towards a manufacturing education.

Denise Reimer is the Dean of the School of Applied Science and Engineering at MATC. She says despite the industry woes the past couple of days, the manufacturing business is booming.

"What we have heard from our advisory boards is that we need to produce more graduates in order to fill those jobs needs. Biotech is on the rise as well as plastics manufacturing for the health care industry, are all jobs that are needed," Reimer said.

But not all experts looking at the Oscar Mayer Madison meltdown agree.

"Madison lost out on this one," Steven Deller said.

Deller teaches Agriculture and Applied Economics at UW and he says this week's job loss could be a sign where this state is going.

"I think the days of big manufacturing plants that employ thousands of people in Wisconsin are limited," he said.

Deller says a recent job growth study put out by the university found larger businesses were shedding jobs and the days of blue collar shift work should be put behind us.

"A lot of manufacturers are adopting new labor saving technologies," Deller said.

" I think that we have embraces this kind of old school thinking about business climite low taxes cheap labor regulations. I don't think that's the future of Wisconsin. I think the future of Wisconsin is trying to make Wisconsin the type of place entrepreneur's wants to live and start a business and grow a business," he added.

As for the economic impact, Deller says he crunched some numbers and he estimates the Oscar Mayer closure will cost about $190 million in labor income and $21 million in state revenue.