Oct. 4 is National Manufacturing Day. And in Illinois, we are recognizing manufacturing throughout the whole month. And we should. It is an opportunity to celebrate our deep manufacturing traditions and plan for our vital role in today’s complex global economy. This year’s manufacturing celebration comes at a critical manufacturing moment. Much is being said about a manufacturing renaissance and the reshoring, or return of production, to the United States. We are witnessing significant investments and efforts to nurture manufacturing at federal, state and local levels.
Illinois has always had a deep manufacturing tradition. Starting with lumber and wood manufacturing in the 1800s, to food, metal, plastics, biopharmaceutical and nanotechnology, generations of manufacturing have made the state a global manufacturing powerhouse in most manufacturing subsectors. Illinois manufacturing today has tremendous strength. For example, our productivity is the envy of the rest of the world, almost 30 percent higher than any other nation and 10 times higher than countries like China. Our supply chain strength and the numerous headquarters that call Illinois home, create an essential hub for regional, national and global commerce. Ninety-three percent of Illinois exports are manufactured goods.
Yet, it is a time of tremendous transition. Process and product innovations are fundamentally changing manufacturing and the necessary workforce skills. As a large number of baby boomer owners prepare to retire, how they transition their business will greatly affect the future manufacturing landscape. And it is a time of tremendous complexity because of globalization and technology. The free-market economy now has 7 billion people creating intense competition and near unlimited market opportunity.
Our manufacturing leaders are up for the challenge. Our talent, our workforce, is a critical foundation for building on our strengths, ensuring effective transitions, and responding to the global complexity. Yet, we are challenged to overcome a skills mismatch resulting in a situation with relatively high unemployment and numerous jobs going unfilled.
During this manufacturing day and month, we encourage you to take time to recognize the manufacturers in your communities. This is our opportunity to connect with future generations, help address a challenging skills gap, and take charge of the image of manufacturing. Numerous open houses across the state will be highlighting our industries and those organizations focused on preparing the future workforce. See http://www.mfgday.com/.
Be proud of “Made in Illinois”!
David Boulay, president
Illinois Manufacturing Center
Amy Fitzgerald, Marketing Manager
Illinois Manufacturing Center Headquarters in Peoria; other offices in Rockford, Carbondale and Park Ridge
From the Oct. 2-8, 2013, issue