Described as the state’s largest economic engine, manufacturing’s role in the Greater Peoria area took center stage as business owners gathered to hear the results of a new study.
The CEO for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) said that Illinois manufacturing generates $52 billion in wages and benefits. Highlighting that those are dollars that come back to help the industry and community grow.
Nearly 600,000 men and women work in manufacturing in Illinois, today over 21,000 of those workers are in Peoria and Tazewell County.
“Central Illinois has a great story to tell about american manufacturing and ingenuity and innovation. Manufacturing is amazing and thriving, literally changing at the speed of light.” said CEO Mark Denzler
Denzler said manufacturing is a key economic driver for the Peoria area with Peoria county being home to the 8th largest concentration of manufacturing jobs in Illinois.
Chris Setti with the Economic Development Council said this impacts the whole economy.
“One out of every four individuals is associated with the manufacturing field and that just shows you the power of manufacturing in Illinois and in the greater Peoria area.” said Setti
While Central Illinois is often associated with names like Caterpillar, smaller businesses are also finding their niche in the manufacturing world and seeing lots of success.
“You know imagine means a lot, people want to be a part of a winner and we believe this area can be a big winner in the manufacturing world and we’re just working together to keep strong but then how do we re-brand the area the attract businesses and workforce.” said Paul Halvorsen, CFO of SMF Inc.
Denzler said the most important thing now is working with Springfield and Washington to make sure businesses are given the tools to succeed.
He said one hardship in the coming years will be the $15 and hour minimum wage, but the more long term issue is keeping the steady workforce.
“We have 592,000 men and women working, half of those individuals are going to retire in the next 15 years.” said Denzler
One of the ways Central Illinois plans to combat that is through vocational programs at the high school level and supporting community college programs.
You can check out the full study by IMA here.