The Advanced Manufacturing Sector Partnership (AMSP) of Indiana’s Elkhart County was formed one year ago when area manufacturers came together with local education leaders to form a partnership.

According to a press release, industry representatives across multiple companies shared their common needs while K-12, higher education, and adult education providers listened carefully. These industry and education leaders then worked together closely to create a long-term plan.

The effort was supported by the Horizon Education Alliance (HEA), an Elkhart County nonprofit organization focused on community collaboration that leads to educational attainment and economic vitality for our region.

These plans have attracted state and national attention along with investment dollars ranging from Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD), to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the private national foundation Lumina. Skill UP Indiana! is DWD’s investment into “innovation networks” around the state, with over $9.5 million being awarded to 11 sites.

The largest award in the state has been given to the South Bend/Elkhart region. DOL money is being leveraged through a partnership with Labor Institute for Training (LIFT) and their Growing Opportunities in America for Latinos (GOAL) initiative. Last month, the Lumina Foundation designated Elkhart County as an official “Talent Hub” for its efforts, one of only 24 in the entire country. As a designated “Talent Hub,” Elkhart County is set to receive $275,000 in grant funding over 31 months.

Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) has been a key partner for the AMSP. Other industry partners have included Benteler Automotive, GDC, Goshen Stamping, Hoosier Crane, Kem Krest, KIB Electronics, NIBCO, and Robert Weed Corp. Key education partners have included Goshen College, Ivy Tech, and all local K-12 school districts in Elkhart County. Additional partners include local chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and workforce development agencies.

LCI is the first to pilot one of the new training programs. The Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) DOL apprenticeship program is underway at LCI’s Plants 45 and 228W, where about 60 LCI team members are participating. The pilot has enabled the implementation of a bilingual version, the first of its kind in the U.S.

“We’re very excited to be a part of this effort, and were looking forward to the great benefits it will provide to the [Elkhart] community’s wellness and prosperity. Through education, empowerment, leadership and technical training, the grant funding will help move our industry into the next era,” said Scott Mereness, president of Lippert Components.

Brian Wiebe, executive director of HEA, added “It’s been gratifying to see our county and our region work together in these new ways. The plans that have been developed will help individuals increase their skills and will help companies have the talent they need to continue to succeed.”