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Manufacturing Our Future Workforce at Excel Foundry

If Greater Peoria knows how to do one thing, it’s build stuff. We are certainly a making community, but the folks at Excel Foundry & Machine in Pekin are building more than machines, they’re helping build our future workforce!

The team at Excel understands that through engaging students they can play a role in not only their education, but helping them make informed career decisions. Excel’s largest effort is found through the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council’s Discovering Manufacturing Careers Expo (DMCE), held every fall. For nine years, Steve Stewart, Director of HR at Excel, has co-chaired the Strategic Manufacturing Group and the DMCE efforts. This last year – the seventh annual DMCE – 780 middle and high school students from five counties toured local manufacturing facilities, met professionals, and explored all the amazing careers that Greater Peoria has to offer!

“At Excel we have employees that are working there today as a product of the DMCE, and it’s important to showcase modern manufacturing and address the misconceptions. We want to introduce students, their parents, and educators to all the careers available in manufacturing and how successful they can be; that’s always been the goal of the DMCE.” “We have such great people at Excel who are passionate about sharing and connecting with students,” Steve laughed, “We have an ICC tour coming today, and I’m not even there!”

In the end, Steve explained, “It’s about people: connecting the right people and working together to impact students.” And it goes beyond impacting students, after the tornadoes in 2013 Steve and the Strategic Manufacturing Group worked with manufacturing and engineering students from local schools to rebuild a mini-golf course in Washington, Illinois. “It was such a great experience, the students learned a lot, our partners really enjoyed it, and we were able to help Washington recover a bit.”

Apart from the DMCE, Excel has fantastic partnerships with local schools providing work co-op positions during the school year, and summer work opportunities over school breaks. On top of this, Steve and his team lead several tours and site visits every month! Most recently, Excel Foundry & Machine has joined the Career Cruising GP network, a local database of regional careers and career development opportunities, extending their reach into Peoria Public Schools.

Far and away, Excel Foundry & Machine is an industry leader in workforce development; you could say, they excel at it (sorry, I had to). To find out how to get involved with the Discover Manufacturing Careers Expo and start connecting with students please contact Kate Carroll at kcarroll@greaterpeoriaedc.org!

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