Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation to officially establish October 1 through October 7, 2017 as Louisiana Manufacturing Week. The signing ceremony was held at the Elmer Chocolate production facility in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Leaders from Louisiana Economic Development and Elmer Chocolate joined the governor to elaborate on the events taking place during Manufacturing Week, and to showcase to young people the available opportunities in Louisiana’s manufacturing sector.
LED FastStart® – the No.1 state workforce development program in the nation – is partnering with the Dream It. Do It. network to celebrate National Manufacturing Week in Louisiana and to facilitate events taking place throughout the state. As part of National Manufacturing Week, LED FastStart and regional and local workforce development organizations are teaming up to conduct the Dream It. Do It. Louisiana 2017 campaign to dispel misconceptions about the manufacturing industry and to facilitate events that encourage students and young adults to consider careers in this profession.
“The manufacturing industry is crucial to Louisiana’s economy, providing fulfilling careers to thousands of Louisiana residents, and we are proud to once again participate in the Dream It. Do It. campaign to encourage our youth to explore careers in this sector,” said Gov. Edwards. “With the help of local and regional workforce partners and our community and technical colleges, this fun and educational campaign will once again help our young people discover the available opportunities in the field of manufacturing. The first lady and I are proud to champion this program as it encourages new educational opportunities for Louisiana students and provides a new perspective to tomorrow’s workforce.”
Developed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute in 2005, the Dream It. Do It. initiative is structured to showcase the available opportunities in manufacturing to youth ranging from elementary school to post-secondary programs. LED FastStart has partnered with the Dream It. Do It.network and regional and local partners around the state to increase manufacturing awareness by scheduling and planning tours of manufacturing facilities, school presentations and visits to community and technical colleges.
In support of Dream It. Do It. Louisiana, LED FastStart has developed a website – www.dreamitdoitla.com – that positions manufacturing as a first-choice career option for students. The informative, interactive site serves to educate students and career-influencers, such as parents and counselors, about the industry. The site also features information on LED FastStart’s Certification for Manufacturing, highlighting the program as a gateway to entering the industry.
“Manufacturing offers students a chance to design and build our future. Initiatives like Dream It. Do It. and Manufacturing Week work to inspire next-generation workers to pursue careers in the industry,” The Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee said. “We’re proud to see Dream It. Do It. Louisiana making a huge impact on young people so that they can see the great jobs and modern technologies in manufacturing today.”
Today, the manufacturing industry in Louisiana and around the country relies heavily on advanced technologies, state-of-the-art facilities and fast-paced work environments, which require advanced skills and result in impressive salaries. In 2016, the national Dream It. Do It. campaign successfully engaged 385,000 students, 89,000 parents and educators, and 5,000 manufacturers. In Louisiana, the 2016 statewide campaign reached 3,450 students.
“Louisiana’s delivery of the Dream It. Do It. campaign for a second year is a terrific way to celebrate manufacturing week,” said Secretary Don Pierson, Louisiana Economic Development. “With eight consecutive years of being ranked the No. 1 state workforce program in the nation, we are proud to have LED FastStart deliver the Dream It. Do It. program once again. We are keenly aware of the tremendous contributions our manufacturers provide to Louisiana, and we are dedicated to the mission of producing a highly skilled manufacturing workforce from which they can build their respective teams. We extend our thanks to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute, and our regional and local partners for their support of this campaign as we foster the next generation of our manufacturing workforce and showcase the opportunities of a manufacturing career to Louisiana students.”
Manufacturing is a key industry in Louisiana. The state has nearly 3,000 companies in the manufacturing industry, supporting more than 134,000 jobs. In 2016, average manufacturing earnings were 43 percent higher than those in service industries. To further facilitate workforce growth in the manufacturing industry, LED FastStart has developed the Certification for Manufacturing program, or C4M, for companies across the state that have significant need for workers with entry-level manufacturing skills. The C4M program is currently being taught in Louisiana high schools and community and technical colleges.
Elmer Chocolate, which hosted the proclamation signing, represents one of the thousands of manufacturing employers in Louisiana today. Founded in 1855 in New Orleans as the Miller Candy Corp., Elmer Chocolate produces a wide variety of chocolates, caramels, truffles and crèmes, along with seasonal holiday favorites. In June 2016, Elmer Chocolate completed a $40 million expansion of its production facility in Ponchatoula. Using the latest in manufacturing and production technology, the company’s 400,000-square-foot facility is more efficient and competitive in the market.
“It’s no secret technology is transforming U.S. manufacturing, and the timing is perfect for young people to pursue an exciting career with significant upside potential,” Rob Nelson, CEO of Elmer Chocolate. “Elmer Chocolate offers opportunities to learn and grow while working with cutting edge technology, from programming robots to troubleshooting state-of-the-art equipment. People can learn the skills required to build a bright future.”