Above: Assembly of the MULE utility vehicles at Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. in Lincoln, NE. KMMC is Nebraska's third-largest manufacturing company measured by number of employees. Photo Credit: Kawasaki Heavy Industries
With its abundant natural resources, low labor costs and business-friendly environment, the state of Nebraska is home to some major names in the food processing and transportation equipment sector.
Today, we're providing some key facts on Nebraska's manufacturing sector and exploring the state's ten largest industrial companies.
According to MNI, compiler of the industrial information that powers IndustrySelect, Nebraska is currently home to 2,394 manufacturing companies employing 126,358 workers.
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According to MNI, Omaha is Nebraska’s largest city based on number of industrial jobs, with 28,791 workers.
Read more: Top Manufacturing Cities in the U.S.
Other top cities in Nebraska include
• Lincoln (24,222 jobs)
• Grand Island (7,498 jobs)
• Columbus (5,543 jobs)
• Dakota City (4,046 jobs)
Douglas County is Nebraska’s largest in terms of industrial jobs, home to 41,508 workers. This is followed by Lancaster County with 24,948 workers, Hall County (9,109 jobs), Platte County (5,796 jobs) and Madison County (5,434 jobs).
The food processing industry is Nebraska’s largest in terms of employment, accounting for 32% of the state’s industrial workforce. This is followed by industrial machinery and equipment with 10% of Nebraska’s factory workers. Transportation equipment makes up another 9%, while fabricated metal products and printing/publishing each account for 9% of Nebraska’s industrial workforce.
MNI reports there are 9,621 executive contacts among Nebraska’s manufacturing companies, including 1,149 presidents, 906 owners and partners; 600 vice-presidents and 804 sales, marketing and purchasing executives.
Other facts to know about Nebraska manufacturers, based on IndustrySelect’s advanced criteria available to subscribers, include ownership, distribution and other trends. Let’s take a look:
• 2% of Nebraska manufacturers are women-owned
• 1% are minority-owned
• 11% are publicly owned companies
• 9% import raw materials
• 19% distribute their products internationally.
These trends reveal that Nebraska relies less on imported materials compared to the U.S. as a whole (9% versus 11% nationally) Additionally, more Nebraska industrial companies distribute their products domestically, compared to the U.S. average (81% versus 70% nationally)
Next, we’ll take a look at the state’s top companies.
|Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.||4,000||Dakota City||NE|
|Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA||2,300||Lincoln||NE|
|Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.||2,300||Lexington||NE|
|Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.||2,200||Schuyler||NE|
|Smithfield Foods, Inc.||2,150||Crete||NE|
|Duncan Aviation, Inc.||1,250||Lincoln||NE|
|Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.||1,200||Madison||NE|
1. Tyson Fresh Meats. (Dakota City, NE)
A meat processing goliath, Tyson employs 141,000 workers globally and has a large presence in Nebraska. The company’s Dakota City location ranks as Nebraska’s top industrial employer with 4,000 workers. Established in 1960, the company specializes in beef processing and packing.
2. JBS (Grand Island, NE)
Occupying 380,000 square feet and employing 3,500 in Grand Island, JBS is a major meat processor in Nebraska. Worldwide, the company delivers more than 32 billion pounds of meat every year to global markets.
3. Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA (Lincoln, NE)
Kawasaki Motors is a division of Japan-based Kawasaki Heavy Industries, The company’s Lincoln location produces personal watercraft, utility & all terrain-vehicles as well as railcar, utility vehicles & ATV wheels, and aircraft structures. Established in 1974, this massive 2,400,000 square foot plant employs 2,300.
4. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. (Lexington, NE)
This Tyson facility in Lexington is the second largest of Tyson’s four Nebraska plants, employing 2,300. Established in 1989, the plant encompasses 800,000 square feet and specializes in beef processing and packing. Measured by number of plants and employees, Tyson ranks as the world’s largest meat processor.
5. Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. (Schuyler, NE)
Cargill is a global food processing giant with 28,000 workers around the world and operating 36 facilities. This Schuyler plant employs 2,200 Nebraska workers and focuses on beef processing and packing.
6. Smithfield Foods, Inc. (Crete, NE)
With 60 facilities worldwide, Smithfield Foods is among the world’s largest pork producer, processing hogs from 2,500 separate U.S. farms. The company’s Crete facility employs 2,150 and encompasses 600,000 square feet.
7. Cabela’s, Inc. (Sidney, NE)
Established in 1961, this location serves as Cabela’s corporate headquarters and is a wholesaler of antique reproduction hardware, taxidermy and woodworking supplies. The company employs 1,500 in Sidney.
8. WholeStone Farms (Fremont, NE)
Established in 1947, WholeStone Farms produces a wide range of fresh pork products and employs 1,500 at this Fremont facility.
9. Duncan Aviation, Inc (Lincoln, NE)
At this 430,000 square-foot facility 1,250 employees produce aircraft parts and accessories as well as provide aircraft engineering and maintenance, overhaul, modification, and repair services.
10. Tyson Fresh Meats (Omaha, NE)
Rounding out our top ten list is third-largest of Tyson’s four Nebraska facilities, established in 1987. This location, in Madison, employs 1,200, and specializes in pork processing and packing.
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Editor's Note: This article was originall published in July of 2021. It has been updated to reflect new statistics and trends for the state of Nebraska.