Year in Review: Manufacturing is again a center of U.S. innovation

By Bart Taylor | Dec 17, 2017

In 2013, we set out to report on growth companies across multiple manufacturing industries. Since then, we've written about nearly 850 businesses, a market sample that likely paints the most complete picture anywhere in media or trade of the transformation of this most iconic of American industrial sectors.

As we reflect back on 2017 through the lens, literally, of the CompanyWeek photojournalists and editors responsible for bringing to life the regional manufacturing economy, it's also useful to take stock of this transforming sector based on the data we've compiled from our rich catalog of company profiles.

So as Jonathan Castner and Judson Pryanovich document their favorite photo shoots of 2017, and Eric Peterson and Alicia Cunningham muse on their favorite profiles from Colorado and Utah, here's a brief overview of the data:

In every interview, we ask executives to identify their challenges, opportunities and needs:

Top Challenges

1. Managing growth

2. Workforce

3. Market education/product awareness

Top Needs:

1. Workforce

2. Financing/Funding

3. Real estate

4. New service and supply partners

Fastest growing industry:

Food manufacturing; 2018 forecast of 23,100 workers hired, or more than 42 percent of the nondurable goods subsector employees forecast. (source: CU Leeds School of Business 2018 Business Forecast)

It's important to note our content bias: Where possible we interview companies with growth prospects, or in the case today of Colorado's rich craft brewing ecosystem, operating in growth markets.

But manufacturing industries written off in prevous years, like consumer and lifestyle manufacturing, are in this region, growth industries. CompanyWeek's catalog of company profiles is today shaped by the proliferation of companies in manufacturing industries making a profound comeback. These companies emphatically cite new markets, new products, and market leadership as the top three opportunities available to their business. In our geographical footprint, manufacturing has rediscovered its historical role as an epicenter of innovation.

Our mission in 2018 is to help manufacturers connect with each other and the supply chain to expand domestic manufacturing -- to Make More in America. If you're a manufacturer or domestic supply-chain provider, we'll get you connected with other companies profiled in CompanyWeek. Here's how.

In the meantime, celebrate the perspective of the writers and photojournalists who've brought the sector to life the past year.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Reach him at