December 14, 2017–

Manufacturers, labor, educators, government officials, and community leaders met at WaterSaver Faucet to share ideas and updates at the December general membership meeting of the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council. The diverse and lively gathering included presentations from Austin College and Career Academy principal Patricia Reynolds, who lauded the work of council members in helping the school increase freshman enrollment by 300% over last year and raise the academic status of the school by one full level. In addition, she pledged her full support for the CMRC agenda.

Manufacturing Connect Program Director Erica Staley also updated the group on the impressive performance of the MC program. She shared that program graduates who chose to work in manufacturing were earning $13 per hour on average and were staying on the job at least 11 months–an impressive number for urban youth just out of high school. Staley also noted that students have earned over 420 industry-recognized certifications and have benefited from over 460 workplace experiences over the 10 years of program operations.

Dan Swinney, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Renaissance program, listed recent accomplishments of the organization including being cited as a national best practice model by leading national think tank, the Century Foundation. Encouraged by the Century recognition, and in part because of the need for sweeping attention to regional industrial policy, Swinney presented his Inclusion and Industry 4.0 concept to the group. Patterned after the German policy model currently in use throughout Europe, Dan’s vision of I&I 4.0 prioritizes social inclusion in the development of a coherent industrial policy framework to support and enhance the regional competitiveness of the local manufacturing industry. Swinney believes such a bold idea will require significant support from industry, the public and elected officials.

In order to build public and political support for this idea, the CMRC has launched two new committees. The Ministers for Manufacturing committee is chaired by the Rev. Anthony Haynes. The committee was formed after a well-attended information breakfast in November of 2017. Already, there is an executive advisory team of over 10 highly influential ministers from across the region and Rev. Haynes has a goal of adding another 25 ministers and reaching over 50 major churches and their followers by July of 2018 to share the good news about manufacturing jobs and opportunities.

The second committee will focus on informing and lobbying elected officials and their staff on education and training in the manufacturing sector. This outreach will include presentations in Springfield, Chicago City Council, the Cook County Board and where possible, in front of key committees in Washington DC. This Legislative Committee is led by a dynamic team of exceptional professionals including Steve Rauschenberger, a former state Senator and currently the president of manufacturing industry advocate, TMA, inc. Also serving as interim co-chairs are former state Rep.and uber lobbyist Paul Williams, and legendary former state Senator Alice Palmer. Paul Williams told the group that 2018 plans for the committee include presenting presentations and specific legislative language supporting advanced skills training to elected officials at every level of government.

The event wrapped up with a networking session where participants got chance to interact with one another and share additional ideas.

The CMRC full membership committee will meet again in the summer of 2018.

Photos: From left Mollie Dowling listens as WaterSaver CEO Steve Kersten welcomes the group; at least 25 people turned out for the lively event, Austin College and Career Academy Principle looks on as MC Program Director Erica Staley provides program updates.

Co-chair Colin Cosgrove, President of Laystrom Manufacturing opens the meeting

Sen. Palmer addressing the group

Rev. Haynes speaking to the group

Former Rep. Paul Williams

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3411 W. Diversey Ave, Suite 10

Chicago, IL 60647


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