MILWAUKEE -- Strategies to help manufacturers survive the global recession and thrive once the recovery begins are the focus of this year’s Manufacturing Matters! Conference.

The conference will be held Tuesday, May 19, at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee. Hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), the annual conference draws hundreds of participants from manufacturing firms across the state. For more information or to register, visit or call (877) 800-2099.

This year’s conference is designed to meet the needs of state manufacturers as they grapple with an unprecedented global recession and competitive challenges.

“We know the needs this year are critical,” says Mike Klonsinski, WMEP’s executive director. “Our focus is on giving manufacturers world-class strategies they can immediately deploy to improve their companies. The ones who do so will reap significant rewards once the recovery begins. As tough as things are right now, many manufacturers recognize that this is an opportune time to invest in change and transformation.”

Conference keynote speakers are: Tim Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! and author ofSaving The World At Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference; and Steven S. Little, business growth expert and author ofThe Milkshake Moment and Duck and (re)Cover: The Embattled Business Owner’s Guide to Survival and Growth,which is coming out in June.

Twenty workshops offer participants fresh insights and best practices on a range of topics, including business transformation leadership, export opportunities, lean manufacturing, marketing, online collaboration and talent management. New this year is a workshop track devoted to sustainability in products and processes. One Milwaukee manufacturer will discuss a highly successful “Lean and Green” initiative that saved the company more than $1 million.

Workshop panelists include representatives from 10 Wisconsin manufacturing firms, including: Aquarius Systems; DMK USA Inc.; Glue Dots International; InSinkErator; KI; Marchant Schmidt Inc.; Oshkosh Corp.; Quad/Graphics Inc.; Reliable Plating Works Inc. and Rite-Hite Corp. All of the Manufacturing Matters! educational content and best practices are built around the six success attributes of Next Generation Manufacturing identified in a recent Wisconsin study. Conference sponsors include: Wisconsin Technical College System; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce; Harley-Davidson Motor Co.; Clifton Gunderson LLP; Vrakas Blum; The Payroll Company; The Business Journal and Insight on Manufacturing.