The Specialized Manufacturing Strategy Group of the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois (EDC) is driving change. This diverse group of manufacturers, economic development and business resource professionals gather regularly to explore new manufacturing opportunities to diversify their businesses and strengthen our region.
The Peoria Metro offers a tremendously wide range of manufacturers’ products, from rock crushing equipment to ornamental engraving, from exclusive watch components to mass-produced molded plastic parts. Manufacturing processes and services vary widely as well, from custom cabinetry construction to CNC laser operations. Steve Stewart, human resources director at Excel Foundry and chairman of the Specialized Manufacturing Strategy Group says, “I have really enjoyed the relationship with all of the other regional manufacturers, coming together for one common goal. Together with the EDC for Central Illinois, we are having an impact on our community.”
With all this diversity, why is the EDC’s Specialized Manufacturing Group looking for more? Simply by diversifying their services and forming new ways of doing business, they can increase their customer base. Or to put it differently, they can put more eggs in more baskets and that translates into more manufacturing jobs, regional stability and potential profits.
“We have an amazing level of talent in this region, which adds to our marketability,” says Stewart. Having Caterpillar Inc., a Fortune 50 company, at the heart of our region has had an enormous influence on the quality of work and skill level of manufacturing in our region. Six Sigma and ISO 9000 programs have raised the bar for manufacturing competitors outside our region. The EDC’s Specialized Manufacturing Group has tackled a number of important issues facing our regional manufacturers and, in doing so, has raised the bar higher.
The group has formed a partnership with Illinois Central College to acquire and utilize grant funds to create the website MakeItIllinois.org, marketing manufacturing jobs, educational opportunities and careers in this vital field. The Specialized Manufacturing Group went to the source to address workforce needs. By hosting open house events for students and parents of potential future employees, manufacturers are able to dispel any myths about careers in this field. Manufacturers’ presentations directly to high school students emphasize that manufacturing jobs include robotics, engineering and computers.
Through the support of IL PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) at ICC and IMEC, the strategy group is exploring “teaming” as a means of being more competitive on bids for large government contracts and diversifying their business prospects even further.
In addition, our regional manufacturers are looking to new trends to provide future business diversification. The green industries and new energy producers will offer further opportunities for the savvy manufacturer. “The EDC’s Specialized Manufacturing Strategy Group continues to exhibit cooperative spirit, build on each other’s strengths and move this region forward,” according to EDC COO Vickie Clark. “We welcome additional regional manufacturers to join our group.” Contact Sally Hanley, the EDC’s business development director, at 495-5953 to join the Specialized Manufacturing Strategy Group. iBi