NW Minnesota’s Manufacturing Industry Shows Resiliency & Growth Amid Pandemic-Induced Challenges

Fall has officially arrived, and with it, Minnesota Manufacturing Month. Our team at Greater Fergus Falls is proud to be part of a region with such a strong presence in manufacturing. In the spirit of Minnesota Manufacturing Month and the recent Statewide Tour of Manufacturing, we want to talk about all the ways this robust, rapidly-growing industry benefits our region and the resiliency manufacturers have shown throughout the pandemic. Get the details below!

Northwest Minnesota’s Second-Largest Industry

Manufacturing is Minnesota’s second-largest industry, and as such, it plays a critical role in Minnesota’s economic prosperity. Over 8,200 manufacturing companies have set down roots in Minnesota, including Fortune 500 companies like 3M, Cargill, Polaris, Land O’Lakes, and General Mills. Statewide, the industry accounts for 309,000 jobs and contributes over $50.8 billion to the economy.

On a local level, the manufacturing industry’s impact is just as profound. There are over 820 manufacturing companies in Northwest Minnesota, which contribute approximately 28,000 to the labor market. According to Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED):

“About one in every seven jobs in [the] Northwest are in Manufacturing, making it the second largest employing industry behind only Health Care & Social Assistance.”

One of the most interesting things about the manufacturing industry is the wide breadth of sectors it covers, especially in the Fergus Falls region. From plastic and rubber products to medical devices and more, manufacturing is one of the most diverse industries in Northwest Minnesota. The different types of manufacturing companies located directly in Fergus Falls are an excellent reflection of how diverse the industry truly is.

Our team recently had the pleasure of touring two local facilities from different sectors: TC Chocolate and Northern Contours. The former falls firmly within food production manufacturing — the region’s top-performing sector — while the latter lies within wood product/millwork manufacturing.

Crafting Stories With Chocolate

Owned by Kristin and Josh Mohagen, TC Chocolate manufactures bean-to-bar chocolate. Every bar is handcrafted in small batches right in the Mohagen’s Fergus Falls factory. While some may assume the “TC” stands for Twin Cities, it actually represents the Terroir (tare-wHAr) chocolate used to create the company’s award-winning chocolate bars. With flavors like Caramel Crack, Salty Nibber, Cardamom Krumkake, and Lavender, it’s easy to see why the couple’s chocolate is so popular.

“I was drawn to chocolate to feed my creativity, my curiosity and my need to make. My background in pastry led me to chocolate and a lifelong journey to create the best bean to bar experience that I could. Crafting chocolate our way is about patience with the process, nurturing the ingredients and celebrating the beauty of it all,” Mohagen says. “Today, my husband and I craft chocolate that is more than a simple treat, it is an experience.”