FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2020
Illinois Manufacturers Celebrate Manufacturing Month
Gov. JB Pritzker issues proclamation honoring the industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and contributions to the state’s economy
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) is partnering with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to celebrate Manufacturing Month throughout October, highlighting the industry’s vital contributions during the coronavirus pandemic and its important role in the state’s economy.
Gov. JB Pritzker issued a proclamation declaring October as Manufacturing Month in Illinois, in which he recognized the nearly 1,000 manufacturers and distributors that voluntarily came forward during the pandemic “to provide the state of Illinois with critically indispensable protective supplies and equipment needed by frontline medical and public safety personnel; development of life-saving medicine and diagnostic tools; and with many who took extraordinary steps to ensure our food supply remained safe and plentiful; and our homes and businesses stayed safeguarded.”
The celebration includes the lighting of Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower at 300 E. Randolph in Chicago to visually honor the history and importance of manufacturing in Illinois, as well as the observance of Manufacturing Day, which is recognized nationally on Oct. 2. IMA and DCEO will also host a series of webinars throughout the month aimed at students and recent graduates. The sessions will feature elected officials, companies and business leaders and are designed to help inspire the next generation of creators to pursue careers in manufacturing.
Panel topics will include Latinas in manufacturing, how Illinois manufacturers responded to the coronavirus pandemic, the role of women in the industry, the global footprint of Illinois manufacturers, and apprenticeship opportunities for those seeking to enter the industry. More information on these webinars can be found at https://ima-net.org/education-foundation/manufacturing-month/.
“Today is a celebration of our state’s amazing and innovative manufacturing sector that employs 555,000 women and men on factory floors in good, high-paying jobs. Throughout history, manufacturers have answered our nation’s call every single time and they are doing it again today during the global pandemic. Illinois companies are making life saving products, equipping health care workers and first responders, stocking our grocery stores with safe and nutritious food, building our infrastructure, powering our homes and businesses, and maintaining critical communication systems,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the IMA. “American manufacturing innovation and ingenuity will help solve our crisis and lead our economic recovery and we owe a debt of gratitude to these unsung heroes.”
During the pandemic, manufacturers invented new technologies to boost testing capacity, including specialized bags that allow coronavirus test samples to be safely shipped to laboratories and new rapid coronavirus testing machines to deliver faster results. Facilities that previously made alcohol for cocktails switched gears to instead pump out bottles of hand sanitizer. Equipment intended to manufacture automobiles and heavy machinery began churning out face shields by the thousands. And manufacturers experienced in making clothing and flags produced masks, gowns and other important items for frontline workers. The IMA helped coordinate these efforts as a co-chair of the Governor’s Equipment Task Force, a wartime-like effort to increase production and stockpile supplies. All the while, Illinois manufacturers are working on the herculean task of developing, testing and distributing coronavirus vaccines and treatments.
“The manufacturing industry is a cornerstone of our economy, and it presents significant opportunities for the next generation of workers and a pathway to in-demand, well-paying jobs,” said Erin B. Guthrie, Director of DCEO. “Under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, we continue to make investments that support the industry’s continued growth – including investments to expand apprenticeship and training, and to make our state a viable place for manufacturers to expand or relocate for 21st century growth. This month, with manufacturing at the center of some of the most impactful work being done in response to the pandemic, we are excited to shine a spotlight on our Illinois manufacturers.”
While manufacturing remains an economic powerhouse in Illinois, manufacturers here and across the country are facing the threat of an aging workforce. Over the next decade, it is estimated that 300,000 men and women will leave the industry as baby boomers begin to retire. Manufacturing Month highlights the many amazing opportunities available in the industry, demonstrating to high school and community college students across the state why pursuing a career in the manufacturing industry is right for them.
The IMA’s Education Foundation 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. This year, the IMA is hoping to fund the important work that the Education Foundation does through the sale of “Manufacturing Strong” T-shirts that showcase the products that helped Illinois weather the storm of the COVID pandemic.
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 http://ima-net.org/.