Technology & Manufacturing Association photo
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) last week joined manufacturing industry leaders and members of the community at Crafts Technology to proclaim October as Manufacturing Month in Illinois. Kicking off October’s National Manufacturing Month, the event was held to recognize the contributions by Craft as well as the hundreds of other Illinois companies that have stepped up and joined the statewide response to the pandemic.
Since COVID-19 hit, manufacturers have played an increasingly important role in protecting and powering Illinois communities. It’s estimated that over 1,000 Illinois manufacturers and distributors stepped up to support Illinois and the broader community by shifting operations to manufacture and deploy the life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to fight the pandemic.
“Illinois manufacturers have a proud history of ingenuity, innovation and resilience. And, despite the extraordinary challenges presented by COVID-19, they continue to persevere by adapting operations and offering life-saving solutions to this crisis," said Governor JB Pritzker. “During this year’s National Manufacturing Month, we must give special thanks to the hardworking men and women who have gone above and beyond to create new products and devices and to put their communities first so that we can deploy the level of health response that this crisis has demanded from all of us. With the industry on pace to grow and to become even more critical in the years ahead, I encourage Illinoisans to join us this month to honor the role of our manufacturers.”
Each year, National Manufacturing Month represents an opportunity to recognize the essential economic contributions manufacturers provide and to call attention to the importance of this growing industry and the 21st century job opportunities it can provide to Illinois residents. Over the next eight years, it’s estimated that 4.6 million new manufacturing jobs will need to be filled nationwide.
"The manufacturing industry is a cornerstone of our economy, and it presents significant opportunities for the next generation of workers and a pathway to in-demand, well-paying jobs," said DCEO Director Erin B. Guthrie. "Under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, we continue to make investments that support the industry’s continued growth – including investments to expand apprenticeship and training, and to make our state a viable place for manufacturers to expand or relocate for 21st century growth. This month, with manufacturing at the center of some of the most impactful work being done in response to the pandemic, we are excited to shine a spotlight on our Illinois manufacturers."
Crafts Technology, an employee-owned company, designs and produces advanced systems and tooling supporting some of the largest electronics, aerospace and medical manufacturers in the world. The company history of producing critical tooling paved the way for it to ramp up production of COVID-19 test equipment earlier this year. Its production scale-up has been central in the efforts of global medical diagnostics companies as testing capacity emerged and remains a critical need in the fight against COVID-19. These products are essential to the mass production of medical products such as vials, syringes, blood tubes and medical electronics, specifically helping frontline healthcare workers battle the virus.
“Stepping up to the needs of medical product manufacturers was no different than stepping up to a war effort, however, this time, the threat was a virus,” said CEO and President of Crafts Technology, Jeffrey Taylor. “Manufacturing is a central part of Illinois and for any healthy economy, and the pandemic actually reinforced our team’s resolve to expand our operations, increase employee training and to expand investments in equipment and technology to meet the ever-evolving needs of the medical products companies. Crafts Technology has been producing high performance engineered wear solutions for critical and essential industries for more than 100 years in Illinois and we look forward to our next 100 years in the great state of Illinois.”
DCEO was joined at Crafts Technology by industry organizations including the Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA) and Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC). Manufacturing is the number one contributor to our economy, employing more than 550,000 Illinoisans and producing $108 billion in total output.
“Today is a celebration of our state’s amazing and innovative manufacturing sector that employs 555,000 women and men on factory floors in good, high-paying jobs. Throughout history, manufacturers have answered our nation’s call every single time and they are doing it again today during the global pandemic. Illinois companies are making life saving products, equipping health care workers and first responders, stocking our grocery stores with safe and nutritious food, building our infrastructure, powering our homes and businesses, and maintaining critical communication systems,” said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “American manufacturing innovation and ingenuity will help solve our crisis and lead our economic recovery and we owe a debt of gratitude to these unsung heroes.”
Under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, the state of Illinois has made continued investments to bolster the manufacturing industry and to prepare communities for the future growth of the industry – with extensive investments in workforce training programs, transportation infrastructure, and with an expansion of economic development tools, like the apprenticeship tax credit to expand the manufacturing pipeline of talent and extension of the research and development tax credit to ensure cutting-edge products are developed here in Illinois.
"Illinois' manufacturing industry is one of our state's greatest prides. Not only do our manufacturers create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, but they also keep the rest of our economy moving, providing the supplies our essential workers need to continue serving our communities," said Deputy Majority Leader Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines). "We are grateful for Illinois manufacturers year-round, but Manufacturing Month is a great opportunity to celebrate their contributions to our state's growth."
“Manufacturers have led the way in every recovery, and this time is no different. Illinois manufacturing firms have responded by pivoting to make essential medical supplies, and rebounding by serving their customers,” said David Boulay, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC). “While it has been a challenging year, we must take this time to celebrate the strength of Illinois manufacturing and the prospects of solid careers in this industry. IMEC is fully committed to helping manufacturers maintain a highly engaged and skilled workforce focus, strengthening local supply chains through reshoring, and adopting cutting edge technology to ensure our Illinois manufacturing tradition remains strong."
In honor of October’s designation as Manufacturing Month, DCEO has scheduled numerous virtual events and webinars showcasing some of the state’s leading companies, allowing residents and communities to engage and learn more about manufacturing growth and exciting job opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Webinars include perspectives from diverse Illinois manufacturing companies – from Fortune 500 companies to small startups – and focus in on ways aspiring creators can access training and other resources to break into the growing industry.
"I want to thank the Pritzker Administration for making manufacturing a priority, not just this month but all year round," said Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines). "Manufacturing employs more people in the 55th District than any other industry, and we are proud of the good paying jobs businesses like Crafts Technology provide."
“Manufacturing Month is an opportunity to celebrate and share the extraordinary work and capacity of Illinois companies with the next generation of workers,” said Steven J. Rauschenberger, President of the Technology and Manufacturing Association. “We are pleased to support the Illinois Department Commerce and Economic Opportunity in this effort to engage students for potential careers in an exciting and growing industry.”