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posted: 9/10/2013 5:30 AM

Hoffman Estates sets aside $10,000 for manufacturing group

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After reviewing the idea at a meeting last month, the Hoffman Estates village board approved a contribution of up to $10,000 to the Golden Corridor Manufacturing Group next year.

The request, which was part of the consent agenda at Monday's meeting, was to include the contribution -- the total of which will be dependent on matching funds from the private sector -- in the village's 2014 budget.

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Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg have worked to sustain the Golden Corridor Manufacturing Group for the last four years. The group works to change the perception of manufacturing jobs, create a workforce with the skills needed for those jobs and strengthen the manufacturing sector along the I-90 "Golden Corridor."

Companies along the corridor, including FANUC America Corp., Felsomat USA Inc. and Big Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc., have sent letters to both villages asking for "startup" funding to formalize the group. They also agreed to the match the villages' contributions.

According to a recent report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, there is a regional need to support manufacturing along the corridor because the industry's employment dropped by 15 percent between 2002 and 2012, largely because there is a skills gap and lack of qualified workers.

The Golden Corridor Manufacturing Group has already been working with school districts, community colleges and economic development departments to address the manufacturing workforce. Group leaders are hoping to continue those relationships, but to do so they want to gain corporate nonprofit status or join an existing nonprofit. The funding approved by the Hoffman Estates village board will help them do that and expand in other ways, such as adding staffing, creating marketing materials and a website, sponsoring outreach such as fieldstrips to students and continuing events to discuss local manufacturing.

The village staff noted that the group's desire to formalize is in the best interest of area communities, businesses and the future workforce. Schaumburg will be reviewing a similar request for funds.

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