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“Makers on the Move” Statewide Bus Tour Visits Chicago as Manufacturing Month Celebrations Continue

October 10, 2022

“Makers on the Move” Statewide Bus Tour Visits Chicago as Manufacturing Month Celebrations Continue

Tour includes stops at manufacturing facilities, colleges and high schools across Illinois to highlight exciting job opportunities in the industry

CHICAGO – The “Makers on the Move” statewide bus tour was welcomed to Chicago on Monday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a stop at Howe Corporation in celebration of Manufacturing Month, which seeks to raise awareness about the exciting career pathways and job opportunities available in the industry.

Hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), the “Makers on the Move” bus tour is visiting manufacturing facilities, colleges and high schools across Illinois to raise awareness about the exciting job opportunities and career pathways available in the industry. Sponsored by Comcast Business, Novelis and Walmart, the “Makers on the Move” tour features a fully-wrapped 56-foot bus that will make stops in nearly every region of the state accompanied by industry advocates, educators, economic development organizations, public officials and other dignitaries.

The public is invited to join in the festivities by attending any of the 19 planned stops to learn about how to become a part of Illinois’ dynamic and diverse manufacturing industry. More information is available at

“On behalf of our city, I am pleased to welcome the ‘Makers on the Move’ bus tour that will demonstrate to local high schools, colleges, and manufacturers that there are many sustainable, important career pathways in this field to take advantage of,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I applaud the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s advocacy and dedication to strengthening our labor market and changing working peoples’ lives while uplifting our local economy.”

The “Makers on the Move” tour is scheduled to make two stops in Chicago on Monday. The first was at Howe Corporation, a fourth-generation family-owned manufacturer that specialized in refrigeration equipment and flake ice machines. The second will take place this afternoon at Eli’s Cheesecake, an iconic Chicago brand that was first created in a restaurant kitchen but is now known the world over for cheesecake and specialty desserts.

“Manufacturing is diverse, sustainable, innovative and exciting, with artificial intelligence, robotics, 5G and virtual reality transforming the industry and our world. We’re excited to celebrate our industry and inspire a new generation of leaders and appreciate the support of public officials like Mayor Lightfoot, who understands that a strong manufacturing industry creates strong communities,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “There’s no better time to explore a career in manufacturing, with manufacturers ready to train and hire new workers.”

A recent study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturing directly employs 662,298 workers but ultimately supports as many as 1,771,928 jobs, generating up to $150 billion in labor income for Illinois residents annually. In all, it’s estimated that the manufacturing industry supports nearly 30 percent of all jobs in Illinois, making it among the state’s largest industry sectors.

“We are very proud of our industry leadership in providing energy efficient solutions that contribute to our customers sustainability goals as well as our 110-year history in the Chicagoland manufacturing community while providing apprenticeship and internship opportunities,” said Tammy Phillips, CEO & President Howe Corporation.

As part of the study, economists examined the manufacturing industry’s evolution in the face of rapid technological development, with trends suggesting a shift toward a higher-skilled workforce. In the next six years, it’s estimated there will be a 21 percent increase in employment growth for process control programmers and a 10 percent increase in demand for industrial engineers. These in-demand occupations likely need a post-secondary credential or some college, underscoring the importance of working closely with education institutions, policy makers and manufacturers to provide specialized training, and the need to further expand workforce training across the state to better prepare Illinois residents to enter high-demand fields.

“The manufacturing workforce is a major part of our competitive advantage here in Illinois. Traveling across the state to celebrate the past, present and future of the manufacturing industry can bring awareness to the accomplishments, opportunities and needs of the industry to build a better tomorrow,” said David Boulay, PhD, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. “Manufacturing is a stronghold of our communities that helps strengthen local economic, innovates our way of life, and brings people together. I look forward to seeing the positive impact we can make on the future of the industry while also showing recognition and appreciation for those who have dedicated their careers to manufacturing.”

Among the successful recent workforce development efforts championed by the IMA is the creation of two new world-class manufacturing academies scheduled to open this fall, a new law that will require all high schools to offer career and technical education by 2025, the establishment of an apprenticeship tax credit for manufacturers that train employees, and a partnership with the Pritzker Administration to launch a new multi-million dollar ad campaign highlighting manufacturing jobs that will launch later this year.

“Manufacturers are often housed in unassuming buildings that disguise the impactful products being made inside. This tour will shine a spotlight on the great work taking place in those buildings, while showcasing the variety of fun and interesting jobs available throughout our communities,” said Sarah Hartwick, Vice President of Education & Workforce Policy at the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Executive Director of the IMA Education Foundation, which works with high schools and community colleges across the state to create pathways for students to begin acquiring specific skillsets necessary for careers in the manufacturing industry. “No matter your background, there’s a manufacturing job available for you.”

Below is a timeline of events for the “Makers on the Move” bus tour, with additional information including full event details and photos that will be taken and added to the site following each stop, available at

  • Friday, October 7
    • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., College of Lake County, 7735 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee, IL
    • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., Phoenix Packaging, 1899 High Grove Lane, Naperville, IL
    • 4:00 – 7:30 p.m., Hinsdale Central vs. York Community H.S. football game, 5500 S, Grant St. Hinsdale, IL
  • Saturday, October 8
    • 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., Northern Illinois University Homecoming Game, Stadium Drive (Lot K), DeKalb, IL
  • Monday, October 10:
    • 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., Howe Corporation, 1650 North Elston Ave, Chicago, IL
    • 1:00 – 1:45 p.m., Eli’s Cheesecake, 6701 W Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago, IL
    • 4:00 – 4:45 p.m., CSL Behring, 1201 N. Kinzie, Bradley, IL
  • Tuesday, October 11:
    • 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., Ingersoll Machine Tools w/ Rock Valley Community College, 707 Fulton Ave, Rockford, IL
    • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., Walmart Distribution Center, 23769 Mathew Rd., Sterling, IL
    • 5:00 – 5:45 p.m., Beer Nuts, 103 N. Robinson St., Bloomington, IL
  • Wednesday, October 12:
    • 8:45 – 10:00 a.m., Morton Industries, 70 Commerce Dr, Morton, IL
    • 1:00 – 1:30 p.m., Knapheide, 2825 Koch’s Lane, Quincy, IL
    • 5:00 – 5:45 p.m., Macon Resources, 2121 Hubbard Ave, Decatur IL
  • Thursday, October 13:
    • 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., Watchfire Signs, 1015 Maple St., Danville IL
    • 2:30 – 3:15 p.m., North American Lighting, 1875 West Maine Street, Salem, IL
    • 6:00 – 6:30 p.m., Intertape Polymer Group, 2200 N McRoy Dr., Carbondale, IL
  • Friday, October 14:
    • 9:30 – 10:15 a.m., Mac Medical, 820 S Mulberry St, Millstadt, IL
    • 1:00 p.m., Dometic, 1 Sierra Pl., Litchfield, IL
    • 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., Illinois State Capitol, 401 S. 2nd St., Springfield, IL

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, please visit

About the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)

IMEC is a team of improvement specialists who are dedicated to changing lives and creating a positive impact on Illinois’ workforce and economy. With a mission to drive growth through enterprise excellence, they help organizations become more effective and efficient by identifying issues, developing and implementing solutions, and providing the necessary support that will allow them to excel in areas of leadership, strategy, customer engagement, operations, workforce, and measurement and results. In 2021, they assisted over 1,600 companies and help create or retain over 5,679 jobs, resulting in over $450M aggregate impact to the Illinois economy.  IMEC has seven offices statewide and 48 full-time industry improvement specialists. For more information, visit

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