DIXMOOR, Ill. (WMBD) — Governor J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month while he highlighted how the state’s manufacturing industry is driving economic recovery from the pandemic.
“Manufacturing is a leading driver in our economy, with more than $100 billion in annual economic output in Illinois, and over 18,000 companies calling the Land of Lincoln home,” Pritzker said. “We have got to seize on every opportunity to build the Illinois that our residents deserve and that our companies need to thrive.”
Pritzker made the announcement from Chicago Magnesium Casting Corporation in Dixmoor, the location of the state’s 40th manufacturing expansion this year alone.
Earlier this year, the state invested $7.5 million in Heartland Community College in Normal, with the money going towards an advanced manufacturing training initiative.
“[It] will hopefully help serve as a pipeline for a growing number of jobs that we’re seeing in electric vehicles and advanced manufacturing throughout the country,” said Steve Fast, director of public information at Heartland Community College.
Heartland is partnering with Rivian to create a first-of-its-kind Electric Vehicle-Energy Storage Manufacturing Training Academy. In addition to the state grant, Fast said $1.5 million in private donations are going towards the project.
The first cohort of the new program started in August.
“[They] get hands on experience with some of these electric vehicles to learn about energy storage and to plan to gain stackable certifications so they can move into different elements of the electric vehicle and advanced manufacturing industry,” said Fast.
Fast said jobs in electric vehicles and energy storage are expected to double by 2024.
“It requires a workforce that can be prepared for the high tech industry that we see today. So if we have the workforce to meet that demand, we’re more likely to see a robust economy,” he said.
Manufacturing is the fourth largest industry in Illinois, according to Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.