Communities Take Team Approach to Addressing Skills Gap

I’ve been writing BizVoice® magazine stories for seven-plus years, but the excitement that comes with discovering new projects, programs and people never wears off. The best part is knowing that our stories are resonating with readers.

You can imagine how happy I was when Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun contacted me in response to a story I wrote in the current issue about a regional effort focused on bridging the manufacturing skills gap (more on that in a minute!). Mayor DeBaun shared with me that similar efforts are underway in Shelbyville – and they sound pretty cool.

Project Impact 2016 emphasizes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) starting with the development of student interest as high school freshmen and ultimately placing college students from Rose-Hulman into local facilities. In addition, Blue River Career Programs and Duke Energy are partnering with the city to build area-specific high school curriculum based on the input of industrial partners.

There’s also the Manufacturing Skills Connection web site, which contains job listings and training opportunities. Scholarships are available for an eight-week Certified Production Technician (CPT) program offered by Ivy Tech Corporate College.

I describe two similar efforts in my recent BizVoice story. Manufacturing Matters – which kicked off last fall in East Central Indiana – includes Wayne, Fayette, Rush, Union and Franklin counties as well as two nearby Ohio counties. Meanwhile, the Advancing Manufacturing initiative is part of a 12-county regional effort covering Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Miami, Montgomery, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Warren and White counties.

Employer partners like Nanshan America Advanced Aluminum Technologies offer a glimpse of the manufacturing world by hosting field trips, participating in interview fairs, presenting workshops and more. Nanshan’s 600,000-square-feet, two-press aluminum extrusion operation in Lafayette makes products for industries ranging from transportation and machinery to building and construction (see employees in action).

It always amazes me to see the people behind the machines who truly are making a difference at manufacturing companies across the state. That’s the bottom line: It’s about people. Initiatives like these remind us of that and help prepare the next generation of our manufacturing workforce.

IBRG Makes Endorsement to Succeed Weatherwax

In the Indiana Senate race to succeed Sen. Tom Weatherwax, Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG) — the political arm of the Indiana Chamber — has endorsed Randy Head (SD18 – Logansport).

SD18 is nearly a 63% base Republican district and is the 17th most Republican senate district in the state. In 2004, George W. Bush received 70.4% of the vote and gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels received 60.4% of the vote. It is our assessment that this will not be a truly competitive race and that Randy Head will win on November 4. The one and only truly competitive senate race remains to be SD5 where Larry Balmer (Plymouth) is challenging Sen. Ed Charbonneau (Valparaiso).

Randy Head is a deputy prosecuting attorney for Cass County. He earned his undergraduate degree from Wabash College and his law degree from Indiana University.

To view a complete list of all IBRG endorsed candidates for 2008, please visit IBRG’s web site or directly open this PDF.