Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
A Good Week for Press Conferences: Lots of really great news and updates this week. First, on Tuesday the partners behind the winning Good Jobs Challenge grant gathered to celebrate the award of $15 million to train 1,000 people in IT trades over the next three years. This is a unique partnership between Illinois Central College, Bradley University, Eureka College and a coalition of the region’s social service agencies and will provide both technical training and wraparound services to low income individuals. Nice coverage here and here.
The next day, I was honored to join my friend Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) to celebrate the impact of manufacturing on the Illinois and Greater Peoria economies. The press event, held at Morton Industries, highlighted the results of IMA’s recently released “Manufacturing Matters” economic study. The total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturing directly employs 662,298 workers but ultimately supports as many as 1,771,928 jobs. The study found that the industry creates $12.4 billion in economic output each year in Peoria County and supports 29,574 jobs with an average annual wage of $146,411. In Tazewell County, manufacturing creates another $3.6 billion in annual economic output and supports an additional 10,365 jobs. At the press conference I pointed out that manufacturing isn’t limited to the men and women who work on the factory floor but includes everything from engineers to accountants to executives. Coverage here.
Finally, and not to be outdone, yesterday Illinois Central College celebrated the end of the second year of the Workforce Equity Initiative. The program helps low income individuals, with an emphasis on people of color, obtain credentials in good paying fields like welding, nursing and trucking. Nearly 500 people have enrolled in the program so far with a 60% completion rate. 70% of graduates report finding work in jobs that pay above a living wage. The WEI initiative is a critical program for these individuals, but also supports the business community by training people to help fill jobs. Coverage here.
EDA Director Visit: Joining the Good Jobs Challenge press conference was EDA Chicago Regional Director Susan Brehm. Susan shared some comments on the importance of workforce development and congratulated ICC and the partners on being one of 32 awardees nationwide in a competition that drew over 500 applicants. After the press conference, Susan joined me for a brief tour of the Peoria area. We had a chance to visit Dr. Quirk-Bailey and tour the under-construction Workforce Sustainability Center, the recipient of a $3 million EDA grant. I also was able to walk Susan through the under-design Distillery Labs, which has received $2 million in support from EDA. It was great to spend some time with a very important partner for our region.
Jobs and Employment: I use this Weekend Update to share with you updated monthly information about some key economic indicators, and have shared with you my bewilderment regarding some of the volatility in the numbers. I took a step back to look at the more recent trends. Below is a chart that combines the results of the monthly “employment report” (based on the location of the person lives) and the “jobs report” (based on the location of the actual job). Because the numbers measure different things and come from different surveys, they will never be the same. One would hope, though, that they might move generally in parallel. This chart shows this hasn’t been the case lately. Since January 2022 the jobs report has shown pretty steady and predictable gains (+7200). The employment report is a bit more chaotic, though does show an increase of about 5500 persons employed over the same time period.
Innovator of the Year: More great news about We Hear You (WHY), a Peoria based startup. They won the student category of Illinois Innovation Network’s “Innovator of the Year.” WHY works to develop solutions that knock down barriers for people living with disabilities. The company was launched by Bradley students and went through The Big Idea competition there. Since then, they’ve gone through Bradley’s Brave Launch and Distillery Labs gBeta program and are currently enrolled in the iVentures accelerator. Big things on the horizon for WHY!
Have a great weekend.