Galesburg college bringing awareness to area manufacturing opportunities


GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) – October is manufacturing month to spread awareness across the United States of opportunities available in the industry.

Over the last two decades, Knox County has taken a hit with big manufactures leaving the area. Butler Manufacturing and Maytag left in 2004.

Now, as manufacturing jobs return to the area, Carl Sandburg College is working hard to create skilled workers for those positions.

“It’s interesting, there’s a lot of different, different things that you gotta do and need to learn to better yourself in the welding industry,” Marcus Allen, a second year welding student at Carl Sandburg College said.

Allen’s father worked at Maytag in Galesburg for 22 years, until they closed in 2004.

“He was one of the last ones there, it was heartbreaking,” Allen said.

After that, his father took manufacturing classes at Carl Sandburg, and now, Allen says he’s following in his footsteps.

“That kind of pushed me into coming here and he got good grades so I’m trying to match him,” Allen said. “Hopefully there are bringing more manufacturing here and I can get a good job. I want to stay, I like my small town so I’d rather stay around here than go to a big city.”

Blanche Shoup with the Workforce Office of Western Illinois says those opportunities are available for those with experience.

“Right now there’s 53 manufacturing type jobs open, just today in this area, in this commuting area,” Shoup said.

“If you ask companies what the number one factor they’re looking at when they’re deciding whether to locate or expand anymore, their answer is going to be talent and the supply of talent in the community,” Ken Springer, president of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development said.

Springer says as technology advances, so are the required skills for manufacturers, which is why programs, like the one at Carl Sandburg are crucial when entering the workforce.

“We’re bouncing back you know, there’s probably not a lot of that type of manufacturing is going to come back, but these other types of manufacturing that we’re talking about the high-tech manufacturing is an area that’s really growing and that’s maybe where we can build on,” Kyle Cecil, Dean of Career and Corporate Development at Carl Sandburg, said.

For more information about the open house or manufacturing training opportunities available at Sandburg, contact the Carl Sandburg College Welcome Center at 309-345-3500 or

For information about manufacturing and economic development, contact Ken Springer of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development at 309.343.1194.

Training assistance inquiries for local job seekers should be directed to Blanche Shoup with the Workforce Investment Board at 309-344-1575.

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