Small manufacturers — those employing fewer than 100 people — comprise 94 percent of all domestic manufacturers, according to statistics from the Manufacturing Institute, which helps employers build skilled work forces.
Rural manufacturers often stay in their original location because of historic roots, according to Steven Deller, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in economic growth and development patterns.
The manufacturers who remain close to — or return to — their roots often play a significant role in their local communities.
The work force shortfall can disproportionately affect smaller manufacturers. To fulfill orders, some, like Dana Jordan, the chief executive of the Cascade Rescue Company in Sandpoint, Idaho, which makes search-and-rescue equipment, have employees work longer hours until they can hire more people.
Manufacturers are also watching the new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and their effect on costs. The often thin margins of smaller companies can be wiped out if costs rise, but cannot be offset by higher sales prices.
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