Makers Wanted – A Community Campaign for Manufacturing

I recently attended what I believe to be a rather unique event that was held in the gymnasium of a high school and focused exclusively on manufacturing, careers in manufacturing and one community’s campaign to keep it strong and local.

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High school students learn about manufacturing plastic products during the Made in Elk Grove Village Manufacturing and Technology Expo at Elk Grove High School in Illinois.

 

I recently attended what I believe to be a rather unique event that was held in the gymnasium of a high school and focused exclusively on manufacturing, careers in manufacturing and one community’s campaign to keep it strong and local. That event is called Made in Elk Grove Village (Illinois) Manufacturing and Technology Expo.

Located about 20 miles northwest of Chicago, Elk Grove Village has made a concerted effort in recent years to build and expand its industrial footprint. I’ve been in and around Elk Grove over the years but I never realized just how huge the industrial park had become. I was told that Elk Grove is home to the largest consolidated industrial park in North America. The Made in Elk Grove Village Expo is one cog in the wheel of innovative ways the town is working to maintain that status.

The Expo is a place where students from high schools in Elk Grove and surrounding communities can meet representatives from Elk Grove-based manufacturing companies of all types and sizes to learn how they turn raw materials into products, or parts for those products, that we use every day. It’s also a great venue for local companies to network with each other. I recognized several of the 100 organizations that exhibited at the Expo, including American Mold Builders Association members Met2Plastic LLC and Helm Tool Company Inc., as well as the Technology and Manufacturing Association, MC Machinery Systems, Crafts Technology, Cincinnati Tool Steel, Arrow Plastic, Carr Machine and Tool Inc., and many more. About 100 companies exhibited and more than 1,100 attendees turned out.

I had the pleasure to meet Bernice Mirrilees, Public Relations Director at Red Caffeine Inc., a marketing company that represents not only Elk Grove Village but several manufacturing companies, who told me, “This year's new initiative was to attract manufacturing students to come for a special student presentation and to network with exhibitors displaying the ‘Future Makers Wanted’ signs in their booths.” She added that more than 70 students applied for the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (GCAMP) scholarship, which caused GCAMP to offer not one but three $500 scholarships to students wanting to take STEM courses in order to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing. (By the way, the so-called “Golden Corridor” runs along Illinois’ highway I-90 from O’Hare Airport to Huntley, Illinois, and encompasses several towns both north and south of the main thoroughfare.) “All six finalists were present and recognized during the presentation that also featured job search tips from Skill Scout and a Q&A session with representatives from Dayton Superior on how to land a paid apprenticeship,” she said.

More activities and awards were presented during the Made in Elk Grove Village Expo, and all I can say is that I walked away marveling at how members of one community, from its students and educators to local businesses and government figures, are working together so successfully to promote manufacturing.

If you know of any other communities who are working with local manufacturing businesses to promote and grow its manufacturing base, I’d like to hear about it! Please email me here.

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