On Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, I attended the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council Ministers for Manufacturing Information Breakfast held at Historic Quinn Chapel AME Church. The purpose of the meeting was to provide interested community stakeholders an overview of the Chicagoland manufacturing industry and its potential for transforming communities. The Manufacturing Renaissance (M/R) was presented as a model program that is impacting employment and violence prevention in Chicago and beyond!
While cold weather and rain prevented the event from a larger audience, it was a great opportunity for community stakeholders like myself. I work with young, black and brown economically disadvantaged youth. I left the event enlightened and armed with valuable resources to assist young people in securing and maintaining meaningful and sustaining employment.
According to information that I received from the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council (CMRC), the Chicagoland region currently has over 15,000 available, advanced manufacturing jobs that pay an average annual salary of $75,000, including benefits. This strongly indicates, to me, that manufacturing is one of the most viable sectors for employing, supporting, and growing middle-class communities in Chicago and the surrounding areas. The CMRC states:
When we invest in the manufacturing ecosystem, which includes technical innovation, 21st century public education and training, infrastructure development and job readiness support services, we grow the middle class, we increase people’s discretionary spending, we generate tax revenue, and we provide a powerful economic engine to drive other important economic categories such as home sales and durable goods purchases.
Much to the chagrin of M/R, there simply is not enough public and private investment in advanced manufacturing training to begin to meet the needs of the manufacturing industry. In fact, today, 20,000 manufacturing jobs that pay an average annual salary of $75,000 are unfilled in Chicago and the surrounding regions. With less than a tenth-grade math competency and five months of training, individuals with a high school education can earn industry-recognized certifications and start working right away!
While the task is challenging and appears somewhat daunting, the Manufacturing Renaissance was highlighted at this breakfast as a viable resource to build partnerships and create futures! In a nutshell, Manufacturing Renaissance focuses its work on building thriving sustainable communities by connecting them to manufacturing through education, training, and local ownership. M/R’s vision is helping communities flourish with sustainable and socially inclusive economic development. M/R’s signature programs are the CMRC, Manufacturing Connect, and Conversion Project. The agency’s advocacy, community engagement, and education initiatives serve to develop an educational and economic infrastructure that meets the needs of both the manufacturing sector and those economically disadvantaged, poorly trained and skilled city residents and surrounding area unemployed.
After listening to Dan Swinney, the Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance and his dynamic and passionate staff, I reviewed the company’s website and will visit their office on Friday, November 10.
Stay tuned for my review…I’m Just Saying~
By James Cannon
Dan Swinney: Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance
Image Courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License