Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council Program Updates

So much has changed over the last year. Since our last event hosting a discussion with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi in May 2020, Manufacturing Renaissance and our CMRC Leadership Committee maintained minimal CMRC programming, meeting monthly to keep one another informed of the significant changes and challenges we faced in light of responding to COVID-19 in our respective organizations and communities.
Over the last four months, the CMRC Leadership Committee took the time to update our program structure and goals for the future. Across group and 1-on-1 meetings, I deeply appreciate the thoughtful discussions that allowed us to gain collective clarity on who we are and how we want to work together. In this update, we’d like to share our refreshed CMRC mission, principles and goals that will be the basis for organizing CMRC activities moving forward. Our next Leadership Committee meeting is on 4/8/21, soon after we should have additional updates to share on new members and upcoming CMRC activity, so STAY TUNED!
Work, however, does not stop for planning! All of us have been working behind the scenes and at various tables in some way advocating for the need to prioritize manufacturing in our economic and community development recovery plans, locally, regionally and nationally. Below is a snap-shot of where CMRC Leadership is “At the Table” promoting manufacturing as a tool for social inclusion and community development.
If any of what we’re sharing today resonates with you, help us build out this unique coalition, participate in meetings and strategic committees to help advance our collective work and consider becoming a member today! We welcome individuals, organizations and corporate entities. Thank you for your interest and support!
Erica Staley
Executive Director
(CMRC Program Director)

At the Table:

CMRC Leadership Committee members are at the table participating in important planning, policy and advocacy discussions related to supporting and expanding manufacturing-related economic and workforce development programs.

National and Illinois:

  • National Skills Coalition’s Manufacturing Industry Recovery Panel: Erica Staley is participating in the discussion with 20 other leaders from manufacturing industry and workforce development to shape policy recommendations that will be presented to the Biden Administration in the coming months.
  • Manufacturing Renaissance Agenda: Dan Swinney has initiated a committee of nationally-recognized leaders including Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy Partners, the Democracy Collaborative, the African-American Institute for Leadership and Policy, The Century Foundation and the Great Cities Institute to raise awareness and educate the Biden Administration and Congress on the need for High Road industrial policy—Inclusion & Industry 4.0—that seeks to dramatically expand our manufacturing sector in a way that is inclusive and explicitly part of the effort to confront the Climate Emergency.
  • Putting Skill to Work: Manufacturing Connect and CMRC programs are featured in Chapter 4 of Dr. Nichola Lowe’s new book Putting Skill to Work. The chapter describes our work as an “early intermediary pioneer” combining employer engagement with wraparound supports to help disadvantaged youth access quality employment. Dr. Lowe is a Professor in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Inclusion & Industry 4.0 National Cohort: Over the last year, Erica Staley and Dan Swinney joined the Urban Manufacturing Alliance and The Century Foundation to connect leading workforce development programs across the country through rigorous, guided engagement and support from experts in the field. This report outlines how workforce development organizations are supporting their communities and employer partners and shaping the future of the industry.
  • Illinois Workforce Innovation Board Business Engagement Committee: Colin Cosgrove serves on this committee to inform and support employer engagement across the workforce development system.
  • WIOA Professional Development Planning Committee: Jess Giudici is working to support service and workforce development across the state. The committee is planning the Illinois WIOA Summit April 27 – 28.
  • American Manufacturing Communities Collaborative: Irene Sherr serves as an Advisory Council Member.
  • Illinois Defense Network & Chicago Defense Resiliency Network: Irene Sherr serves to represent the Chicago region.
  • Skills Agenda for an Equitable Economic Recovery: Erica Staley and David Robinson participate in Chicago Jobs Council and coalition member efforts to advance equitable workforce development policy for Illinois.


  • Chicago Cook Workforce Innovation Board: Colin Cosgrove was appointed last year to serve a three year term. The WIB is a federally mandated body that oversees the investment of the region’s annual Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allocation from the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Chicago Metro Metal Consortium: Irene Sherr and her team are organizing the next CMMC meeting April 8th featuring Joel Simon with Burning Glass will be presenting his recent work on demand and recovery trends in the Chicago area’s manufacturing sector, and how COVID-era trends may impact the labor market long-term. Latest report. Click here to join the meeting
  • Cook County and IMEC Survey on Manufacturers: Cook County/ CMMC and IMEC completed survey of 1000 suburban Cook manufacturers and urgent needs. CMMC / CMAP will host a meeting to discuss policy implications. More details coming soon.
  • Hire360: Don Villar serves on the Board of Directors providing support for Hire360’s programs to connect community members to careers in construction and grow diverse construction firms.
  • Cook County hosts 3-day virtual workshop series with NASA: OEMS on doing business with NASA. Launch is April 27th and will highlight Flight Center Overviews. NASA Update, Panel Discussion with Prime Contractors.
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Regional Economic Recovery Task Force: Irene Sherr, Erica Staley, and Dan Swinney are participating in discussions to inform regional policies for COVID-19 recovery, economic growth, workforce development and racial equity.
  • Certification Workshop for Global Business Professionals: Reggie Greenwood has been working with Governors State University to develop courses and workshops for supply-chain development leaders. Next workshop starts on May 3rd.
  • Technology & Manufacturing Association: Jess Giudici serves as a member of the TMA Board of Directors, TMA Foundation Board of Directors and the MECC committee.
  • Southland Development Authority: Irene Sherr serves as a Board Member, Ex Officio.
  • Cook County Racial Equity Council: Irene Sherr serves as a member.
  • Illinois Apprenticeship Navigator: Cook County Bureau of Economic Development designated by the State of Illinois to serve as an Apprenticeship Navigator for 10 counties of northeast Illinois. This is for all sectors, but manufacturing is key.


  • City of Chicago COVID-19 Workforce Development Recovery for Manufacturing: Colin Cosgrove and Erica Staley participated in two meetings to identify program priorities for the Mayor’s Office. Recap Summary.
  • Corporate Coalition of Chicago: Craig Freedman participates in this alliance of companies seeking to reduce severe inequalities in the Chicago region by identifying and implementing new ways for companies to deploy their capital, capabilities and employee enthusiasm. Through the Coalition Craig is participating in the first cohort to the Chicago Resiliency Network to help employers develop trauma-informed practices for the work place helping employees build resiliency.
  • Austin Coming Together’ s Austin Workforce Collaborative: Erica Staley is serving as Vice-Chair in a collaborative of multi-sector workforce development providers who serve Austin residents. The AWC is a priority strategy identified in the Austin Quality of Life Plan.

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