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Futurist encourages SD's manufacturers to keep 'open mind'

Jack Uldrich, global futurist and former naval intelligence officer, speaks to a crowd of 170 people on Thursday morning at Mitchell Technical Institute for the South Dakota Manufacturers' Day Summit. (Sara Bertsch / Republic)1 / 2
Jack Uldrich, global futurist and former naval intelligence officer speaks to a crowd of 170 people on Thursday morning at Mitchell Technical Institute for the South Dakota Manufacturers' Day Summit. (Sara Bertsch / Republic)2 / 2

The world is changing fast — especially technology.

And Jack Uldrich, global futurist and former naval intelligence officer, made a stop in Mitchell to share this with South Dakota's manufacturers and how they can help "futureproof" the state.

"Keep an open mind of the future, because it's going to be crazier than we thought," Uldrich told the approximately 170 people in attendance at the South Dakota Manufacturers' Day Summit on Thursday on Mitchell Technical Institute's campus.

The daylong summit was put on by Sioux Falls-based South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions for manufacturers across the state. And Uldrich was selected as keynote speaker and breakout session leader because of his background.

Uldrich has authored 11 books, and frequently speaks on technology and change management by making appearances of Science Channel's "FutureScape," Discovery Channel's "Inside Out' and often guests on CNN and NPR.

Uldrich urged South Dakota's manufacturers to be open to the new technology and how it'll transform manufacturing. The title of his talk was "AHA" —an acronym that stood for awareness, humility and action.

Uldrich said certain industries and jobs will disappear in the "not so distant future." Some of the trends in technology brought forth include mobility such as 4G and 5G technology, and bringing this high-speed internet access to rural parts of the country including South Dakota.

"The future of education, the future of health care, the future of manufacturing is in fact going to be dependent on high-speed internet access and your areas are going to have to have it," Uldrich said.

And if the rural community doesn't have this access, it's up to manufacturers to work with local electrical cooperatives and organizations to bring it to small towns "sooner rather than later."

These points driven home by Uldrich was exactly what the South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions hoped for in bringing him to speak for the summit.

"I think it's important to always be learning and to continue to change with the times," said Sara Byre, marketing specialist for South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions. "And another thing about attending is gathering more resources, making more connections and doing things that you might not have thought of before."

Byre said the purpose of her company and the daylong summit — which is hosted in the first week of October in conjunction with National Manufacturing Week — is to provide support South Dakota's manufacturers.

And Byre hopes with Uldrich's presentations, they'll take away some advice for the future of their companies and manufacturing in South Dakota.

Uldrich ended his speech by encouraging manufacturers to have courage, innovation and creativity to use the new technology and be better and faster than their competitors. If they do this, he said, they'll have an "incredibly bright future."

"The world is changing, and we need to be aware of it," Uldrich said.

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