Despite global economic challenges and the loss of thousands of jobs, Wisconsin's manufacturing sector remains a key part of the state's overall economy. The next generation of Wisconsin manufacturers will need to get lean and green, according to MPI Group CEO John Brandt . Brandt was keynote speaker this week to a meeting hosted by Milwaukee 7 's Next Generation Manufacturing Council and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership . Brandt concedes it's a challenging time for the manufacturing sector: "however, we are seeing that manufacturers in Wisconsin and the rest of the United States . . . have an opportunity to compete right now, if they focus on the right things, if they focus on next generation manufacturing." Brandt says that means becoming leaner, more innovative, globally focused, green and highly skilled. Brandt was in Milwaukee to address business leaders on how next generation manufacturing can transform South East Wisconsin in to a world class industrial center.