Manufacturing Renaissance Selected to Join New Project to Advance Racial Equity in Manufacturing



June 25, 2020

Manufacturing Renaissance Media Contact:

David Robinson-773-524-7609 or

Manufacturing Renaissance Selected to Join New Project to

Advance Racial Equity in Manufacturing

Chicago-based Manufacturing Renaissance will join a cohort of 8 leading workforce organizations to advance a racially inclusive future for manufacturing as the economy recovers

Chicago, IL–Manufacturing Renaissance announced today that it will join a new national project led by The Century Foundation (TCF), the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA), and seven other urban workforce development organizations concentrated in the Midwest. The groups, selected through a competitive process and funded by Lumina Foundation, will strategize solutions to the U.S. manufacturing sector’s national recruitment challenges, deepen relationships between employers and communities, and develop credential based training programs to forge a more racially inclusive future for manufacturing.

“Manufacturing Renaissance has always been focused on community development and social justice. Our approach focuses on manufacturing because, as Harvard’s noted sociologist, William Julius Wilson said, the growth of extreme poverty particularly in the African American community is a direct product of de-industrialization and racial discrimination”, said Erica Staley, Executive Director of MR. “As manufacturing experiences a rebirth in the Chicagoland region, it is critical that we ensure racial equity is central to how we rebuild the future of work in manufacturing here and around the country. We are eager to share our expertise and learn from the other organizations on how to recruit, train, and ensure the success of people of color in manufacturing,” added Staley.

The coalition launches its effort at a pivotal time for U.S. manufacturing and the nation as a whole. As the country’s manufacturing capacity recently shifted to produce millions of pieces of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) to fight and recover from a deadly pandemic, COVID-19 has brought renewed attention to the need for a strong U.S. manufacturing sector. Pre-pandemic estimates indicated that the United States needed an additional 2.4 million manufacturing workers over the next decade. In the Chicago region alone, there are as many as 58,000 vacant jobs in advanced manufacturing paying and average annual salary of $84,000 including benefits. Yet, because of the lack of adequate training and education, less than 1,000 people per year are trained with the skills they need to get these jobs.

With unemployment rates at record levels, especially for Black and Latinx workers, and a renewed focus on addressing systemic racism throughout our society–including employment–U.S. manufacturing’s rebirth presents a critical opportunity to open the sector’s good paying jobs to more workers of color.

“We are seeing three historic trends converge at once,” says Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at TCF and one of the organizers of the coalition. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a need for skilled manufacturing workers to respond to the crisis, and highlighted the importance of employer-focused, credential-based training. The resulting recession has created historic levels of unemployment, leaving half of Black workers without work. And a long overdue reckoning on racial inequality has underscored the urgent need to improve access to jobs that pay well and provide good benefits. Our coalition will work at the intersection of these trends to help shape a more inclusive future of work for manufacturing.”

“The manufacturing sector’s long legacy of creating jobs that offer pathways to the middle class for millions of American families will be crucial to a thriving 21st century economy that works for everyone,” says Lee Wellington, Executive Director at UMA and co-organizer of the coalition. “We are proud to launch this initiative in collaboration with The Century Foundation and these eight incredible partners to realize the promise of an inclusive manufacturing sector and a more equitable future of work. To build a manufacturing sector that’s advancing equity in our communities, we need to dig deeply into the ecosystems that our place-based workforce partners have cultivated — whether it be with public schools, credentialing programs, faith-informed organizations, industry partners, or other community-based groups. Through our engagement with this cohort, we will lean into partnerships that have been forged and partnerships that have not yet been built to create a more inclusive and resilient manufacturing sector.”

As part of the Industry and Inclusion 4.0 cohort, Manufacturing Renaissance will work with TCF, UMA, and seven other Midwest-based organizations: Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC; Chicago/Baltimore), LIFT (Detroit), MAGNET (Cleveland), Manufacturing Renaissance (Chicago), Menomonee Valley Partners (MVP; Milwaukee), MxD (Chicago), Northland Workforce Training Center (Buffalo), and WRTP/BIG STEP (Milwaukee). The project is supported by Lumina Foundation, a national philanthropy focused on equity and educational attainment and based in Indianapolis.


About Manufacturing Renaissance

Founded by Dan Swinney in 1982, Manufacturing Renaissance’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. For the past 38 years MR has been recognized as a leading expert, advocate and practitioner of policies and programs that support the manufacturing sector as a primary strategy for reducing poverty, expanding and sustaining middle-class communities.

Today, Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) works to advance sustainable development through manufacturing. MR works in context of a society rife with multiple systemic crises that negatively impact most communities through inequality, racism, environmental degradation, and other failures. MR seeks to develop programmatic prototypes that could be part of building a new development paradigm that serves to enfranchise Black, brown and low-income communities economically and socially.