Ashley Monroe acknowledges that the I-90/Golden Corridor Manufacturing Group in Hoffman Estates has made some progress in boosting interest in manufacturing careers among local students since forming in 2009.
But the assistant planner for Hoffman Estates hopes that planning assistance recently awarded to the village by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning will help with efforts to continue building a manufacturing industry workforce throughout the Northwest suburban region.
"We're excited to see what comes of us working with them," Monroe said, adding that the agency will be providing the village with a consultant in 2013 through its Local Technical Assistance program.
Hoffman Estates is one of 48 communities in Northeastern Illinois to be selected for the planning support.
One of the main goals the village hopes to achieve with the extra help is getting area schools on board to introduce the variety of local manufacturing careers available to students.
"There's been a lot of improvements within the industry that people don't really realize have happened," Monroe said, adding that the ways a student can go into the manufacturing field range from starting a career right out of high school to a mix of four-year or community college courses. "It's not just a blue-collar field at this point."
Monroe is not sure which schools will be part of the project, but she knows high school Districts 211 and 214, Harper College and some Elgin area schools have expressed interest in past manufacturing efforts.
Precision tool manufacturers that are part of the village and the I-90/Golden Manufacturing Group have expressed interest in gaining increased cooperation with secondary and postsecondary education programs, Monroe said.
"They've communicated that this is an issue, that they really do need people who are excited about the profession and skilled," she said, adding that with a larger manufacturing workforce eventually more manufacturers may want to move to the area.
"We're just excited to be able to have the opportunity to work on this and continue the work that the corridor group has initiated and kind of just wrap in the region so we can all benefit," Monroe said, adding that there is hope other municipalities, stretching from O'Hare International Airport to Elgin, can benefit from the assistance.