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Illinois Manufacturers Celebrate Manufacturing Month with Launch of “Makers on the Move” Statewide Bus Tour at College of Lake County

October 7, 2022

Illinois Manufacturers Celebrate Manufacturing Month with Launch of “Makers on the Move” Statewide Bus Tour at College of Lake County

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

GURNEE – The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) today launched “Makers on the Move,” a statewide bus tour that will visit manufacturing facilities, colleges and high schools across Illinois to celebrate Manufacturing Month and raise awareness about the exciting career pathways available in the industry.

Sponsored by Comcast Business, Novelis and Walmart, the “Makers on the Move” bus tour began at the College of Lake County’s newly-opened Advanced Technology Center in Gurnee. A former big box home improvement store, the 142,000 sq. ft. facility underwent extensive renovations to transform into a state-of-the-art center for manufacturing education. The tour, featuring a fully-wrapped 56-foot bus, will now travel to other manufacturing facilities, colleges and high schools across Illinois, accompanied by industry advocates, educators, economic development organizations, public officials and other dignitaries. The public can join the festivities by attending any of the planned stops to learn about how to become a part of Illinois’ dynamic and diverse manufacturing industry. More information is available at

“Manufacturing is diverse, sustainable, innovative and exciting, with artificial intelligence, robotics, 5G and virtual reality transforming the industry and our world. The ‘Makers on the Move’ tour is designed to shine a spotlight on the great work our manufacturers do every day, as well as the many exciting job opportunities available across Illinois,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “There’s no better time to explore a career in manufacturing, and manufacturers are ready to train and hire new workers. We’re excited to celebrate our industry and inspire a new generation of leaders who will move our state and nation forward.”

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.

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. Travelling 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.”

“We’re proud to sponsor the Makers on the Move bus tour,” said Blake Hunter, Plant Manager at Novelis Lincolnshire. “Collaborating with strategic partners like IMA and IMEC supports the development of a critical pipeline for STEM and manufacturing professionals. Thanks to years of investment and innovation, careers in manufacturing are plentiful, safe and rewarding. It is with great appreciation for our partners that Novelis invests in valuable initiatives like Makers on the Move to make a positive impact on our colleagues, customers and communities.”

Understanding changing workforce needs, College of Lake County invested in the Advanced Technology Center to strengthen Lake County’s workforce by providing industry-relevant career pathways that focus on industrial technology, fabrication and welding.

“CLC is a dedicated partner in meeting workforce needs in Lake County,” said Lori Suddick, EdD, President of the College of Lake County. “The college’s investment in the ATC aligns programming with Lake County’s most in-demand jobs. This project represents enormous potential to grow a diverse skilled talent pipeline that is responsive to a critical Lake County industry. The ATC will give our students new opportunities to build rewarding careers in Lake County, while also supporting our thriving manufacturing businesses in this region.”

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

About the College of Lake County (CLC)

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.

About Novelis

Novelis Inc. is driven by its purpose of shaping a sustainable world together. We are a global leader in the production of innovative aluminum products and solutions and the world’s largest recycler of aluminum. Our ambition is to be the leading provider of low-carbon, sustainable aluminum solutions and to achieve a fully circular economy by partnering with our suppliers, as well as our customers in the aerospace, automotive, beverage can and specialties industries throughout North America, Europe, Asia and South America. Novelis had net sales of $17.1 billion in fiscal year 2022.Novelis is a subsidiary of Hindalco Industries Limited, an industry leader in aluminum and copper, and the metals flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group, a multinational conglomerate based in Mumbai. For more information, visit

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