Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Manufacturing Renaissance Do?

Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization, founded in 1982 by Dan Swinney. MR’s original purpose was to provide reliable information and technical assistance to the City of Chicago, labor and community groups who were fighting manufacturing plant closures that devastated the west and south sides of Chicago in the 1980s. 

Since then, MR has been recognized as a leading expert, advocate, and practitioner of manufacturing-focused community and economic development projects and programs. Today, our Mission is to advance sustainable development anchored in manufacturing as a primary strategy for reducing poverty, expanding inclusion, and expanding middle-class communities. 

We develop and operate programs as prototypes that allow us to: A) Serve our community; B) Deepen our learning and understanding of what it takes shift the traditional development paradigm:

  1. Manufacturing Connect (MC) serves in-school youth, ages 14-18, to provide high quality, career pathway programming including career exposure, technical training and work experiences to help young people start and keep good paying jobs in manufacturing. 
  2. Young Manufacturers Association (YMA) serves as both a network and a program for young adults, aged 18-29, who are pursuing careers in manufacturing, in-between jobs, in training or interested in starting a career in manufacturing. As a network, YMA members meet through regular meetings and social events, they support one another as peers through challenging work and life situations. The YMA as a program provides technical training and  services on an as-needed basis, including career coaching, wrap-around supports, and as an employer liaison. 
  3. Instructors Apprenticeship for Advanced Manufacturing (IAAM) was developed in partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to train the next generation of great machining instructors to be technologically, culturally, and pedagogically competent in the machine shop classroom and advocates for similar programming in schools and communities.   
  4. Cook County Early Warning Network (CCEWN) is a new pilot project supported by the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to assist firms in distress as a result of COVID-19 providing quick, cost-effective, and meaningful professional services that help analyze the situation and provide immediate response.  CCEWN services include financial restructuring, operational restructuring and cost management, market diversification, ownership transition, high-performance workplace strategies.  
  5. Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council  (CMRC) is a regional coalition that promotes manufacturing as a tool for social inclusion and community development. The CMRC consists of three committees who meet regularly:  Leadership, Legislation and Policy, and the Ministers for Manufacturing. The CMRC organizes general membership meetings open to the public 2-3 times annually.

Please contact Erica Swinney Staley, Founder and CMRC Director for more information.
(773) 278-5418 x20

It’s easy. 

  • Manufacturing Connect: No background experience or clean record is necessary. Current training cohorts are serving seniors in high school. Interested participants must have a readiness to learn, and availability to attend classes. Contact Leslye Long at or (773) 278-5418 x 30 for more information on upcoming training and events

  • Young Manufacturers Association: No background experience or clean record is necessary; all you need to join is be aged 18-29, have a readiness to learn, and availability to attend classes. Contact Torres Hughes at or (773) 278-5418 x 40 to inquire about joining.

MR offers a 10-week manufacturing training program for youth and young adults that covers blueprint reading, applied math, measurement tools, manufacturing and safety concepts and preparation to earn the Materials, Measurement and Safety credential through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills. Contact Joyce Weston for more details.

Working Together with our partners and the community, MC/YMA benefits our community and local economy thusly: 

1) Youth: gain technical and professionalism skills, individualized supports and have expanded access to career-track, economic opportunity after high school (include a testimonial link);

2) Employers: find talent to fill jobs in their companies that allow them to grow their business (include a quote from Freedman);

3) Agencies: incorporate a hard-skills, career pathway program component to their services that can lead to more sustainable outcomes for social services (include a link with supporting data);

4) Schools: ensure a higher proportion of their graduates’ secure positive placements after graduating improving the school’s performance scorecard;

5) Communities: find a higher percentage of their populations accessing family-sustaining jobs, paying taxes and contributing to improving the community.

Across our program areas, MR serves low-income, predominantly Black and Brown communities, small-to-mid-sized manufacturing companies across the Chicagoland area.

Yes, all participants who successfully complete the program and choose to pursue employment in manufacturing are placed in manufacturing jobs. 75% of those place achieve a minimum of 90-days retention on the job.

The CMRC is building a diverse, regional coalition of people, leaders, organizations, workers and employers who recognize the strategic importance of manufacturing in developing communities. If you believe the same, we need  your voice! Join a growing network with diverse yet likeminded leaders and advocates in the field, be part of expanding a new way of building communities.

If you are low-income and living in Cook County, our program is of no cost to you. Contact Joyce Weston for more information.