Green Bay Profile
Brief History on Green Bay
Green Bay is the oldest settlement in Wisconsin.1 Settled by the French in the 17th century due to its strategic location at the junction of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Green Bay is also a Lake Michigan port and connects, via the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers to the Mississippi River, and, ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. Established as a trading post for fur and agricultural goods, Green Bay eventually transitioned to dairy production, and finally into a factory town catering first to the lumber industry and ultimately paper production.2 Today, with its century-old paper industry in decline, Green Bay has transitioned into a modern city with a diverse economy that includes many service sectors. However, with almost one in five jobs still in some form of manufacturing, Green Bay to a large degree retains its manufacturing heritage.
Why Green Bay was Chosen for the Industrial Cities Initiative (ICI)
Green Bay was chosen for the ICI study because it typifies a Resurgent Industrial City – i.e., one that has broadened and diversified its employment base, and scores highly in measures of well-being. To learn more about the four categories (Resurgent Industrial Cities, Transforming Cities, Fading Cities, and Overwhelmed Cities) into which the ten ICI cities were organized, please read the Industrial Cities Initiative: Working Paper Summary.
Compared with the nation’s manufacturing employment trend, Green Bay has maintained proportionately far more manufacturing jobs, as depicted in the chart below. Currently, the average of the employed population working in manufacturing among all U.S. cities is 11.0%, while Green Bay has 18.8% of its employed population working in the manufacturing. Since 1970, the percentage employed in manufacturing for all U.S. workers has fallen from 26.1% to 11.2%, representing a 56.9% drop. However, since 1970, the percentage employed in manufacturing for Green Bay workers has fallen from 27.5% to 18.8%, representing only a 31.8% drop.3
1. Green Bay and the United States: Percent employed in manufacturing
Future of Manufacturing
Despite its relative health and adaptation to a changing global economy, Green Bay shares a key issue with many ICI cities in that its education system may not fully serve the next generation of potential manufacturing workers, who must have complex technical skills, but do not necessarily plan to obtain a four-year college degree. As manufacturing has not been actively or positively promoted as a career path, the current school-age generation may accept false stereotypes of manufacturing as a dead-end career. The NEW (NorthEast Wisconsin) Manufacturing Alliance was created to help build a better image of manufacturing and promote the industry as having a solid career path. NEW Manufacturing Alliance “is a group of manufactures, working with educational institutions, workforce development boards, chambers of commerce and state organizations to promote manufacturing in our Northeast Wisconsin Region.”4 NEW Manufacturing Alliance has four main objectives: (1) build a positive perception of manufacturing; (2) create and grow partnerships with schools, media, and other outlets; (3) promote workforce development; and (4) advance collaboration efforts that support the industry. City leaders expressed hope that the NEW Manufacturing Alliance and other organizations devoted to improving manufacturing in Green Bay will help the city’ manufacturing industry thrive.
1 National Park Service, Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
2 Andrew E. Kersten, Untold Significance: A Commemorative History of Green Bay, Voyageur Magazine, Winter/Spring 2005, Volume 21, Number 2.