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Manufacturing Day Recap 2015

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Here’s just some of what happened during Manufacturing Day 2015:

In Starke County, the Starke County Economic Development Foundation (SCEDF)hosted an event spotlighting more than 18 local businesses involved in everything from plastics and furniture to recycling and fertilizer.

By partnering with local schools, the SCEDF brought in approximately 340 seventh grade students to talk with the companies and learn not just what the business does and what jobs it employs, but also what kinds of skills and training the students will need to be successful as employees.

According to the SCEDF, this strategy not only supports manufacturing but also serves to demonstrate that there are good opportunities for students in their own community. The event was also open to the public. “We are excited to have this opportunity to showcase our local industry,” said SCEDF Executive Director Charles Weaver. “We hope this event will make what [local businesses] do here more readily apparent to people in the county and surrounding areas. Especially to the seventh graders who will someday be working for these companies.”

In Chesterton, a partnership including the Northwest Indiana Forum, the Center of Workforce Innovations, NIPSCO and the Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation brought area manufacturing employers together for a Northwest Indiana Manufacturing Summit that was also open to the public. The summit was located atUrschel Laboratories brand new facility and featured speeches from Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith and U.S. Congressman Pete Visclosky on topics covering the state of the manufacturing industry today and the amount of foreign investment towards manufacturing that Indiana receives, largely thanks to its workforce, stability of government and finances and its business friendly environment.

Bryan Van Deun, Chief of the Economic Espionage Unit of the Counterespionage Section of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI, spoke on the dangers that face businesses as technology becomes better integrated into the workplace and threats from domestic competitors and foreign governments and competitors increase. Van Deun presented a variety of safeguarding strategies and red flags to be vigilant of.

The summit featured two panels covering Leadership in NWI’s Workforce and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies. During the workforce panel, panelists discussed the shift from assembly line-focused manufacturing to technologically integrated employees able not just to operate a machine but also to understand how it functions. According to the panelists, manufacturing still suffers from an image problem as dirty, dangerous and mostly unskilled. The reality is far from that, they say. The technology panel highlighted what was coming into the workplace and what advances were on the horizon, as well as laying out some of the benefits of the shift. For one thing, panelists said they have been able to increase production while decreasing their energy use thanks to more efficient processes.

The event concluded with a tour of Urschel's new facilily, where their precision-engineered size reduction industrial food processing equipment is manufactured and then shipped throughout the world.

In La Porte, the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC) and the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC) hosted the “Made in La Porte County” event, featuring 50 local firms talking with citizens, visitors and over 700 students. According to the organizer, Bob Schaefer of Community Dynamics, the event had three goals including familiarizing students with local companies, building pride in the citizens that learn more about what their area produces and to connect local businesses with each other. Mayors from both cities were in attendance and turnout by both companies and attendees was outstanding.

Manufacturing makes up more than 29% of Indiana’s gross domestic product, and for some of the regions in northern Indiana that figure is even higher. Ongoing efforts like the few examples above bring together businesses, communities and the workforce of tomorrow to the ultimate benefit of everyone.

For more information about Manufacturing Day, visit:

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