Agriculture may reign supreme in Champaign County, but on Friday, the county’s growing manufacturing industry was brought to the forefront during national Manufacturing Day.
According to mfgday.com, Manufacturing Day, which takes place on the first Friday in October, is co-produced on the national level by four manufacturing associations.
The website states the purpose of the daylong celebration is to “address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is – and what it isn’t. By working together during and after Manufacturing Day, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.”
For the past five years, local leaders, manufacturers and education institutions have come together on Manufacturing Day to celebrate the county’s ever-growing manufacturing sector and to introduce high school students to the job opportunities available in their own back yard.
In honor of Manufacturing Day 2016, the Champaign County Ohio Manufacturing Human Resources Council with assistance from the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) hosted an event Friday in which dozens of students from Urbana, Mechanicsburg, Graham and Triad high schools were introduced to the following manufacturers: Honeywell Aerospace, WEIDMANN, Bundy Baking Solutions, Rittal, ORBIS, The Hall Company and KTH Parts Industries.
The event consisted of three sessions – a morning tour, a presentation period/lunch at the Urbana University Student Center, and an afternoon tour.
“Our community is fortunate to have the welcoming environment from the local manufacturers,” CEP Economic Development Director Marcia Bailey said. “They are anxious to showcase their products, explain the skills needed to work in today’s manufacturing environment, and offer time for the students to have a true hands-on learning experience.
“We are also fortunate to have our local school systems (local school districts, Ohio Hi-Point and Urbana University) that want the students to have the opportunity to visit and learn more about the various career options that are available to them in manufacturing,” she added.
During Friday’s two tour sessions, Triad students visited Rittal, ORBIS Corporation and WEIDMANN; Mechanicsburg students went to Bundy Baking Solutions and Honeywell Aerospace; Urbana students toured The Hall Company and WEIDMANN; and Graham students stopped by Honeywell Aerospace and Rittal.
Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said Manufacturing Day ties in well with the district’s Career Gears program, which focuses on the three “E’s” – enlistment, enrollment and employment.
“It provides a great opportunity for our younger students to learn about careers close to home in a variety of settings to spark their personal interests and to help them set goals,” he said. “We applaud our community partners for helping us provide these important examples and for building relationships with our students.”
At Mechanicsburg High School, Superintendent Danielle Prohaska said the district’s participation in Manufacturing Day helps support its increased focus this school year on the three “E’s.”
“We also believe that partnerships throughout the county will provide additional connections, skills development, and employment opportunities for our students,” she added. “Our involvement is important in growing those partnerships. “We want our students to make connections with manufacturers and leave school prepared for employment, enlistment or enrollment.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.