Campaign underway to promote manufacturing in Greenville area

By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 9:46 am on Monday, April 21, 2014

Members of the Coalition of Greater Greenville Thursday discussed a new campaign aimed at promoting manufacturing to area students. Pictured, from left, are Candy Kerschen, co-director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, Karl Yoder of Chemical Bank, Pete Haines, Greenville Public Schools superintendent, and Kathy Jo VanderLaan, business services manager of Central Area Michigan Works Consortium. (Daily News | Curtis Wildfong)


GREENVILLE — Manufacturing is a huge part of the Greenville area community and area officials are launching a campaign to promote interest in manufacturing jobs, skills for which are in high demand.

With manufacturers like Greenville Tool & Die, Federal Mogul and Mersen, employees with skills in the trade are always being sought, said Kathy Jo VanderLaan, business services manager of Central Area Michigan Works! Consortium.

The problem is there aren’t many people, especially younger ones, out there who passes them.

With a four-year college plan the norm, but not necessarily for everyone, manufacturing has become a “dirty word,” Greenville Superintendent Pete Haines said during a Coalition of Greater Greenville meeting Thursday.

“Those top kids, that’s the last thing their parents would encourage them to do, and we need to change that,” he said.

In order to change it, officials said the stigma has to be removed and the benefits of a career in manufacturing need to be highlighted.

“We embarked on a campaign to help people discover manufacturing again,” Greenville Chamber of Commerce Co-director Candy Kerschen said.

“It’s not only for kids, it’s for the parents. You have so many parents say ‘no, you’re not going to go into manufacturing.’”

VanderLaan said the common assumption manufacturing is just a grungy factory job isn’t true.

“Manufacturing is not dirty, it is, again, computerization,” she said.

To promote the field, officials have first put together a short “teaser” video, showing what potential there is in the Greenville area in manufacturing.
Showcasing some of the different trades of manufacturing such as computer design, welding and more, the video is meant to spark some interest in students, the hope being they will want to learn more.

But that’s just a start.

“You’re not going to move kids to a career path with a one-minute video, it’s meant to be part one in about a four-stage approach to getting at least the right kids looking at this as an opportunity,” he said. “It’s meant to make manufacturing in this community look cool, look hip.”
From there, the campaign will expose students directly to manufacturers and the types of jobs they offer.

“The next step is to bring manufacturers into our high school, and even into our middle school, to let kids see what they do a little closer,” Haines said. “We bring Army recruiters in every once in a while. They hand out their pencils and do whatever, but every once in a while they come do something a little more. Kids who are real serious come spend 20 minutes or so going a little deeper. Think about that in manufacturing.”

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