Regional Manufacturing Initiative Touts Success

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Leaders of a 12-county work force program say other communities are adopting their methods. Lafayette-based Advancing Manufacturing offers training and job leads to high-skilled professionals. Organizations in cities including Bloomington, Richmond and Kokomo are developing similar programs. December 18, 2013

News Release

LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The regional Advancing Manufacturing program, which serves several area counties, has proven to be so successful in providing scholarship-funded manufacturing training, partnering with industries, and matching employers and applicants that it is now being used as a model for other parts of the state.

Four areas are creating programs based on the Lafayette model: Bloomington/Bedford, Connersville/Richmond, Kokomo and Shelbyville.

Advancing Manufacturing debuted in Lafayette in February 2012, offering already skilled applicants access to direct-hire positions and those needing training the opportunity to become a Certified Production Technician. In the last two years, 193 people have earned the credential.

The next training program in Lafayette begins in January.

"Right from the start, both interest and participation have been high," said Jody Hamilton, director of economic development at Greater Lafayette Commerce, one of the Advancing Manufacturing partners. "Employers turn to Advancing Manufacturing to fill jobs because they know these applicants have the needed skill sets."

"The number of industries posting various jobs on the site has grown, too," said Kara Webb, business and employer services team leader at WorkOne REACH. "We now have 22 employers who work with Advancing Manufacturing."

They include AdKev, Alcoa, Ball Corp., Cal-Comp Electronics, Carter Fuel Systems, Caterpillar, Cives Steel, Coleman Cable, Dean Baldwin Painting, Easton Technical Products, Emerson, Federal Mogul, Girtz Industries, Kirby Risk, Lafayette Instrument Co., Monticello Spring, Nanshan Aluminum, NHK Seating, T&L Sharpening, Terra Drive Systems, The Tech Group and voestalpine Rotec.

The program is popular with both employers and applicants, Webb said. "Manufacturers like the convenience of finding those who are job-ready, and applicants like the ease of finding a good match."

Roger Feldhaus, chief executive officer of Region 4 Workforce Board, says being chosen as a program to model is a compliment. "Our success shows what can be done when the right people come together and cooperatively take on a challenge. In this case, we are meeting employers’ needs and our workforce's needs."

The program also offers high school students tours of area manufacturers in the fall and spring each year. In November 2013, some 150 high school students from Tippecanoe and White counties visited regional industries for Manufacturing Career Day. A spring 2014 tour will feature industries in Cass/Miami, White/Carroll and Tippecanoe counties.

"For many participants, this is the first time they've been inside a manufacturing facility," said Hamilton. "It can be inspiring to see the sophisticated processes, the products made in this region and the opportunities for careers."

The Lafayette-based program recently received $50,000 in scholarship funding from the Alcoa Foundation, and it will share with the four new programs in a $312,000 grant from Duke Energy, also for scholarships.

Advancing Manufacturing serves a 12-county area, including Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Miami, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren and White counties.

Besides participating manufacturers, partners include representatives from education, employment, economic development and government sectors.

Educators include Ivy Tech Corporate College in Lafayette and Kokomo; from employment, Region 4 Workforce Board and WorkOne West Central Indiana.

The utility industry is represented by Duke Energy, Tipmont REMC and White/Carroll REMC; industry by Alcoa Foundation; and economic development by Indiana’s Technology Corridor and North Central Economic Development Partnership and their participating economic development organizations. Government participants include the cities of Kokomo, Lafayette and Monticello, and commissioners of Cass, White and Tippecanoe counties.

More information is available online at www.advancingmanufacturing.com.