News

Gilmore Foundation Announces Sponsorship & Matching Grant Challenge Supporting the ICC Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative

The Regional Workforce Alliance, chaired by the CEO Council and Illinois Central College, is building regional momentum to revitalize the manufacturing industry in Central Illinois. The momentum is demonstrated by the ability of the Alliance, Illinois Central College, the Gilmore Foundation, and their partners to address regional deficiencies in the manufacturing workforce that inhibit manufacturer stabilization and expansion.

In the Greater Peoria area, less than 40 percent of individuals over the age of 24 have a post-secondary credential while 60 percent of jobs require a credential beyond high school. The area’s manufacturing industry is second only to health care and employs 22,858 workers in 349 manufacturers across the ICC district. The industry is already experiencing sizable workforce gaps, with projected job growth at 6.3 percent from now through 2025. The Greater Peoria area has the required “raw materials” to revitalize manufacturing, including underemployed, under-credentialed individuals who need to be certified to expand the manufacturing workforce.

“We are fully aware of the need to revitalize manufacturing here in Central Illinois and are committed to making it happen through community partnerships,” shared ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey. “Today’s manufacturing worker requires a high-skill credential, which will provide a high-demand career with a family-sustaining wage. Earning that credential will not only change the trajectory of the individual’s lives, but also the lives of their families while growing the workforce, expanding manufacturing, and revitalizing the regional economy.”

These initiatives will transform the regional manufacturing industry by expanding the manufacturing workforce at significant rates; supporting career pathways for upskilling the incumbent workforce and credentialing the emerging workforce; significantly reducing workforce development lead time; increasing capacity for manufacturing expansion and recruitment; and by providing a supported manufacturing pathway for our citizens of poverty and color, enhancing our equity agenda.

Gilmore Foundation Announces Matching Grant Challenge for Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative  

Gilmore Foundation has joined the manufacturing revitalization movement by supporting the ICC Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative. The Foundation recently contributed a generous $435,000 grant to implement the initiative. One-third of the amount will be received in the form of matching funds.

“Gilmore Foundation is committed to job creation through projects which assist in the development of our community’s infrastructure. We are proud to invest in a movement to revitalize manufacturing in Central Illinois, while simultaneously transforming adults of color and poverty into credentialed manufacturing professionals,” said Gilmore Foundation President Laura Cullinan. “Our hope is that this matching grant will spark a unified giving effort in our community to invest in training and retaining talent in the tri-county area.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have the support of the Gilmore Foundation for this new initiative,” said Dr. Quirk-Bailey. “Their investment allows us the opportunity to remove barriers for struggling and under-credentialed members of our community and make a life-changing impact.”

 The ICC Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative addresses the local manufacturing workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to provide underserved individuals a full-time manufacturing job paying at least 30 percent above the regional living wage. It also focuses on improving workforce inclusivity within manufacturing. It will provide a credential and a living-wage job for adults residing in disproportionately impacted areas (low income, low employment, high crime). African American or low-income participants must represent a minimum of 66 percent of the population served by the grant.

Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and CEO Council President & CEO Joshua Gunn added, “The Regional Workforce Alliance and ICC are committing to major initiatives to revitalize manufacturing, including the Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative, the GPEAK essential skills project, the Workforce Sustainability Center, and a Manufacturing Academy. These four initiatives will foster advanced manufacturing excellence by meeting incumbent and emerging workers where they are, and aligning required skill sets with current and future employer needs.”

ICC will provide Earn and Learn and Workforce Readiness skills programs, enhanced by pre-apprenticeship and essential skills training. Local community-based organizations will assist with case management and wrap-around support services to ensure student success.

The Manufacturing Workforce Equity Initiative will train participants in the high-demand occupations of CNC Machine Operator, Production Welder, Welding Specialist, and Diesel-Powered Equipment Technician.

Interested individuals can apply at icc.edu/wei or call (309) 690-7600. Additional information is available at icc.edu/wei. Interested manufacturers looking to join the revitalization movement and sponsor a student can contact the ICC Educational Foundation at [email protected].