Category: Local Jobs/Training

Pontiac Heartland Community College History Classes


Woodland getting ahead of the game

STREATOR — Recent years have seen the job market trend increasingly toward careers requiring skills in computation, engineering and manufacturing, and the desire for education to meet those demands has expressed itself in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics academic discipline.

And Woodland High School is putting itself ahead of the curve, becoming the first school district in Livingston County to implement a STEM curriculum for all its grades, K through 12.

But ambitious programs such as these require a bit more than sheer determination and sweat — they need a serious capital investment.

That’s where the beneficence and patronage of Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, along with Country Financial and Streator Onized Credit Union, is crucial: after the GLCEDC helped procure a seed grant of $31,000 for Woodland, the insurance agency and the bank pitched in as well.

With the investments, Ryan McGuckin, superintendent of the Woodland School District, said that Woodland had teamed with Texas Instruments to add its line of TI-Nspire series of graphing calculators to the school’s repertoire.

He believed that the science teachers and math teachers had been able to utilize such technologies to “revolutionize the curriculum,” making it even ready to tackle “the 22nd Century” when it arrives.

Hannah Cox, the STEM teacher at Woodland, works with the grant equipment and gave a specific accounting of its impact in the classroom.

“My students get to learn about things that they don’t necessarily get to see in an everyday chemistry class or an everyday math classroom,” she said. “They get to build it … They get to see how it actually works on a small-scale, and how it should work on a large-scale.”

A project that Cox is particularly excited about is the arrival of futuristic Texas Instruments TI-Innovator Rovers, purchased by the school due largely to the largesse of Country Financial.

“With Country Financial, they were able to give us money to buy what are called Texas Instruments Innovator Rovers, which are these little robots that we’re able to use with the calculators we have now,” she said, explaining that the Rovers could essentially be piloted once connected with a calculator.

“It’s really cool and I’m really excited about it,” she added.

Kevin Derossett, the representative of Country Financial of Dwight whom Cox had first approached about procuring cutting edge tech, said humorously that today’s technology made him nostalgic for a time when “you could make a computer screen flicker like a strobe light.”

On a more serious note, though, he said Cox’s enthusiasm was “inspirational” and a “great opportunity to give back to the local community.”

Lori Christopherson, a representative of SOCU, added that her employer is pitching in for consumable supplies for Woodland.

“We were told that they needed consumable products so … we found out what that need was,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we were giving back to the community in that regard.”

In addition to the recent bequests from SOCU and Country Financial, McGuckin also expressed gratitude to the GLCEDC for helping kick off Woodland’s significant expansion of its STEM curriculum.

“If not for the generous grant from the (GLCEDC), we couldn’t do this,” he said.

CEO Adam Dontz said that after the initial grant, which he likened to a seed, was planted, he was encouraged that other community organizations and businesses helped the school bear fruit.

“I think we were the initial contributor to help Woodland really develop its STEM program, and what I was really pleased by was that from our initial contribution, not only has Woodland received additional benefit and partnerships with Country (Financial) and SOCU, but then they’ve also brought in other local businesses like Iberdrola and others.

“I was happiest to hear from what Ryan conveyed is that, stemming from what we did, it has really become a community effort.”

The Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter
January 18, 2018

Technical Metals moving forward with some help

The Daily Leader
May 6, 2017


School District Still Not Getting State Money

The Daily Leader
April 21, 2017


Unemployment Numbers Could Change

The Daily Leader
March 22, 2017


Interview on Pontiac Caterpillar’s Future

WJEZ interview with Caterpillar’s Pontiac Factory Manager Steven Harding and Adam Dontz of the GLCEDC.


Jobless Rate Creeps Up In October

November 19, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

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District Moving Full STEAM Ahead

November 15, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader

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WEEK News: Community Leaders See Growth at Caterpillar’s Pontiac Facility

WEEK News 25
November 2, 2016

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CAT Hiring in Pontiac

September 15, 2016 (link to article)

We’re used to seeing Caterpillar in construction zones, but in Pontiac, we are seeing construction zones in Caterpillar.

“By restructuring and making the space more efficient and by having a large facility, a million square feet, we could leverage a lot of existing resources here,” the facility’s product manager Susan Toher said.

The CAT facility in Pontiac is going through a $12 million upgrade to make room for the production and people they are getting from plants in Thomasville, Georgia and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Shannon Ziegler was working in Thomasville when he learned the company was consolidating.

“It all sunk in, you know, yeah, we’re going to be losing our jobs, but we’re going to make the best and we’re going to do the right thing and we’re going to keep our integrity high,” the third shift group manager said.

He is part of the select few who were able to move back to Pontiac. It’s the same facility where he originally got his start with the company.

“How could you not want to come back to a facility and a community like this,” Ziegler said.

“We have had a few folks that transitioned with the business. Many of the jobs, most of them were hires from the local area,” human resources manager Kevin Kramer said.

Robert Armour is one of those locals.

“I know a couple people who have worked here, so I decided I’d give it a shot,” he said.

He’s been with the company for just two weeks. And he’s not alone.

The Pontiac facility has hired 80 new employees with plans to hire at least 80 more much to the delight of those in the area.

“To see everything grow into Pontiac, it’s going to be fantastic,” Ziegler said.

Aside from the open space, the company chose Pontiac because Livingston County was able to offer them incentives to stay put.

The transition should all be complete by the end of this year.

Cat Plant Gets Makeover for Consolidation

September 16, 2016
Pontiac Daily Leader (link to article)

The sprawling, 1 million-square-foot Caterpillar facility of Pontiac opened its doors to the press Thursday morning, as officials gave local media a short presentation and fielded questions, as well as taking the visiting journalists on a tour of the plant — a rare occurrence in the 38 years that Caterpillar has operated within the building.

The local Caterpillar plant has had plenty of reason to show off in recent months. Since the $1.6 million deal between the heavy equipment corporation and several municipal and school entities within Livingston County was finalized earlier this year, the local operation has added 80 new employees, and has plans to add 80 more by January.

The essence of the agreement was for the governmental bodies to pay Caterpillar approximately $1.6 million to retain its current employee base of 550, and to offer additional money for jobs the plant creates, along with a tax abatement on the table if certain job creation criteria are met over the next five years.

The Livingston County Board, the main financial backer, had clawback provision protection should Caterpillar renege on the deal in some way — namely, by closing the plant.

During the presentation, Susan Toher, the plant’s product manager, said that the addition of the jobs also coincided with the closure of Caterpillar facilities in Thomasville, Ga., and Santa Fe, N.M., and those plants’ operations and equipment consolidating in Pontiac.

During the tour of the plant, Steven Harding, the plant’s facility manager, pointed out that $12 million in equipment investments had been added to Pontiac, and that areas of the facility that were empty would soon be completely full.
Before the consolidation, Toher noted that the Pontiac facility, a fuel systems plant, made fuel injectors and pumps. After the consolidation, she said that the after-treatment parts previously made in Santa Fe — which she compared to catalytic converters in vehicles — would now be made in Pontiac. She said that the company had done a lot of “moving around and reconfiguring” to make space for the incoming equipment.

On the decision to consolidate, Toher said that a corporate analysis was done to assess advantages and disadvantages of where consolidation would occur, and found that the Pontiac location’s square footage would allow for “leverage of existing resources.”

Toher said that much of the additional work being done at the facility is similar to what had been done before, but some new jobs would require skilled labor, such as welding, which had not previously existed at the Pontiac plant.

Kevin Kramer, the plant’s human resources manager, said that most of the hires following the consolidation were local, estimating that 25 to 30 of the recent hires were transfers from the Santa Fe and Thomasville plants.

The deal brokered between the public and private sectors was not reached without critique; when asked about such criticism, Kramer said the decision “showed us that the community really values Caterpillar and its presence in the community, and we view it as a very positive thing.” He hoped that Caterpillar’s own involvement in the community, such as its $100,000 donation to United Way, showed that the positive relationship was reciprocal.

After the tour, Caterpillar employee Shannon Ziegler, who is a Livingston County native, Pontiac facility veteran and, most recently, a transfer from the Georgia facility, said he was not at all surprised that Livingston County had stepped up to make the Pontiac plant as attractive an option as possible following consolidation.

“This town as always been good for all the businesses here, but it was just amazing (hearing about the deal),” he said. “It just really sunk right to your heart.”

Pontiac’s Caterpillar Plant Adds 80 Jobs

September 16, 2016
PANTAGRAPH (link to article)

PONTIAC — Pontiac’s Caterpillar plant has reached the halfway point of its promise to hire 160 employees by next summer.

“We have hired 80 new employees since the January announcement and have plans to hire at least 80 more employees by early 2017,” Senior Public Affairs Manager Jamie Fox said.

In January, Caterpillar announced plans to add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as a result of company restructuring. The announcement came following an economic incentive agreement with the company and Livingston County taxing bodies, which abated property taxes as incentive for the plant to stay in the county and add jobs.

The fuel systems facility in Pontiac marked its 38th year in operation this year, but new operations will be added as part of the restructuring, said Susan Toher, product manager for the Pontiac facility.

“Our plant looks totally different than it did in January,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of construction and a lot of preparation to bring some jobs here. If you walked through the facility last year, you would not have thought we would have room. But we relocated 114 machines and we found the room.”

The Pontiac plant is about 1 million square feet, she said. The new positions include the manufacturing of subcomponents for engines for some of Caterpillar’s bigger machines.

In announcing the restructuring in January, the Peoria-based manufacturer announced that five other plants would close, resulting in a net loss of 670 jobs. However, the Pontiac plant was given a vote of confidence with the announcement that some work would be transferred in.

“Our employees are really excited and as a company, we are all working hard to be competitive, and improve our safety, overall performance, and efficiency goals,” she said. “The company sent a positive message to us and it’s great to see our employees and the community stay behind us.”

About 700 employees now work at the Pontiac plant.

“With different types of work, come more opportunities and we have seen a lot of long-time employees applying for new positions in an effort to gain some new skills,” Fox said.

County’s Unemployed Numbers Fall

Pontiac Daily Leader
By Paul Westermeyer
Staff Reporter

On Aug. 26, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced that, although job growth was slow in areas of the state, the rate of unemployment had also decreased between July 2015 and July 2016 statewide. Both Pontiac and Livingston County saw an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent drop to 5.2 percent in that span.

Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls welcomed the news for Pontiac. “The falling unemployment rate is definitely good news,” he said. “It means that our employers are doing well and, because of that, the unemployment rate is dropping.

Karls declined to speculate on what reasons may or may not have c ontributed to the declining unemployment rate, saying that there were “so many factors to consider,” such as workers residing outside the county being employed by local businesses, as well as how the way that the unemployment rates are tabulated may not absolutely reflect the exact size of the workforce.

Still, the city administrator was optimistic about what the numbers meant for Pontiac, and had echoed conversations he and others in the municipal government had had with employers in the area.

“This is certainly indicative of what we’ve heard from employers — that their employment numbers have remained strong,” he said. Karls referenced the Caterpillar plant in Pontiac, which has added jobs since the intergovernmental incentives and tax abatement agreement finalized in late January, signed by the company, the City of Pontiac, the Livingston County Board, other municipal govern mental entities and several school boards.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, which was instrumental in creating the Caterpillar incentives package, highlighted his organization’s role in helping thin the rate of unemployment in the area.

“Given the substantial capital investment and hiring announcements by multiple employers, I am not surprised Livingston County’s unemployment rate has fallen,” Dontz said. “The GLCEDC has worked with Anthony Liftgates of Pontiac, Caterpillar of Pontiac, RKO Saw of Cullom and Selig Sealing of Forrest to implement hiring incentives and/or property tax abatements recognizing their job creation and building expansions.

“Collectively, these companies have announced over 190 new jobs and nearly 30,000 square feet of building expansion.”

In its release, the IDES added that, over the year, non-farm payroll employment was unchanged at 1 4,000. Manufacturing and financial activities had the largest increases in employment, while the trade, transportation and utilities, educational-health services and leisure-hospitality sectors had the largest declines from a year ago.

Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: CNC Grinding Specialist

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Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Lathe/Mill, Drill, Bore Specialist

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Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Assembly & Test Specialist

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Caterpillar Hiring at Pontiac Facility: Welder

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Livingston Workforce Services

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2016 Heartland Annual Update: Employers see success with Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

Pontiac employers see success with HCC’s Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program.

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Official: Agreement May Have Helped Bring Jobs to Pontiac

Pantagraph – February 3, 2016

PONTIAC — The CEO of the Livingston County Economic Development Council said an intergovernmental incentive and tax abatement agreement may have played a role in bringing new Caterpillar jobs to Pontiac.

Adam Dontz said he was pleased with last week’s announcement that the construction equipment manufacturer plans to add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as the result of a company-wide restructuring…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article]

Caterpillar Plant in Pontiac Will Create 160 Jobs

WEEK TV – January 29, 2016

PONTIAC, Ill. — While many communities are struggling with massive job cuts by Caterpillar starting next month, a local organization has ensured what looks like a bright future for Livingston County…

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Pontiac Offers Incentives To Gain 160 Caterpillar Jobs

Peoria Journal Star – January 29, 2016

PEORIA — Caterpillar Inc. smiled on a slice of central Illinois, announcing 160 out-of-state jobs will be moved to its plant in Pontiac.

Those jobs come thanks to a three-pronged incentive plan from Livingston County — cash payments and tax abatements potentially worth about $4 million over three years to Caterpillar — that also assures the Pontiac plant of retaining its current 550 jobs…

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CAT Adds 160 Jobs at Pontiac Facility

Pantagraph – January 29, 2016

PONTIAC, IL — Caterpillar will add about 160 jobs to its existing Pontiac plant as the result of company-wide restructuring announced Friday.

“We’re pleased that Caterpillar had confidence in the Pontiac plant, its employees and our community,” said Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls.

The Peoria-based manufacturer also announced the loss of at least 120 jobs from its East Peoria facilities. Overall, the changes announced Friday, which include five plant closings, will result in a net loss of about 670 jobs…

[CLICK HERE to read entire article]

City Council Gives Approval to Cat Plan

Pontiac Daily Leader – January 20, 2016

The Pontiac City Council was the latest agreeable party to the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council’s plan to facilitate job retention and growth at Caterpillar. After GLCEDC CEO Adam Dontz gave a short presentation at the Council’s Tuesday night meeting, the governing body voted to join with other area taxing bodies in the project…

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Committee Approves Incentive plan for Pontiac Caterpillar Facility

January 8, 2016 – WEEK /

PONTIAC, Ill. — The Livingston County Finance Committee has approved a plan to help give Caterpillar a greater incentive to stay in the county…


Committee OKs Incentive Plan for Pontiac Cat Plant

January 7, 2015 – Pontiac Daily Leader

In what may prove to be a crucial move in helping Caterpillar weather a storm of macroeconomic industrial downturn, the Livingston County Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a measure, organized by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council CEO Adam Dontz, in which the county will provide the local branch of the multinational company retention, job creation and tax abatement incentives, in order to ensure that the plant has greater incentive to stay here…


OSF HealthCare Raising Minimum Wage For Workers

As both an employer and a Ministry of Catholic health care, OSF HealthCare is called to be socially just and recognize the personal worth and dignity of every person served – including its own Mission Partners (employees).

Effective November 22, 2015, the new minimum wage for all Mission Partners across the OSF HealthCare Ministry will be $10 an hour. Approximately 482 Mission Partners will benefit from the increase, about 3% of the 17,000 person workforce.

OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, based in Peoria, Illinois consisting of 11 acute care facilities in Illinois and Michigan, two colleges of nursing, a physician organization, and an extensive network of home health services.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The minimum wage in the state of Illinois is $8.25 an hour, in Michigan it is $8.15 an hour. While some national retail companies have announced moves to boost the minimum wage for workers, OSF HealthCare is one of the largest health care systems in Illinois to do so.

“We have made the decision to increase the minimum wage because it is the right thing to do. The adjustment impacts these Mission Partners the most,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, O.S.F., Major Superior and OSF HealthCare Board Chairperson in announcing the increase. “Our Sisters deeply value all of our employees and the wonderful service they bring to our Sacred Ministry.”

“This socially just wage is consistent with our Values and the Catholic teaching on the dignity of workers and work,” added Kevin Schoeplein, OSF HealthCare CEO. “Each OSF Mission Partner counts; each of us makes a difference in the way we treat our patients, their families and each other.”

The majority of those who will benefit from the wage increase serve in food service, housekeeping, gift shops, or are members of the guest services team.

“This shows me OSF cares about taking care of its workers – they value us,” said Abby Nicolet, a Food Service Assistant at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center in Alton for a little over a year. “I am paying for college and want to continue working in the medical field, this will help. Plus, I will be able to help my mom with some bills.”

Trevor Malatek has worked as a Floor Care Technician at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford for about 10 months and is also a college student, studying to be a nurse. “When employees get paid more, they have more pride in their work, so patients benefit, too. OSF didn’t have to do this, but it will have a lot of benefits in the long run.”

“For me, it’s a student loan payment or car payment every month,” explained Rebecca Copeland, a Room Service Ambassador at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, the married mother of a kindergartener who took a starting position to gain more experience within the dietetic department so she can fully use her college degree. “OSF is a great employer, but this is a physical job with long days, so the increase is a positive, encouraging step.”



GLCEDC’s “Insights from Women” Coverage

WJEZ’s coverage of GLCEDC’s “Insights from Women” event.


Daily Leader: Business Futures venture relies on special workers

Business Futures venture relies on special workers
Pontiac Daily Leader
May 2, 2015

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Travis Williams exhibits what Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program intends

Williams exhibits what GLCEDC class intends
Pontiac Daily Leader
January 31, 2015

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GLCEDC and Heartland Community College Deliver Results for Local Manufacturers

glcedc_heartlandGLCEDC and Heartland Community College Deliver Results for Local Manufacturers.

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Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox Webinars

URBANA, Ill. – Illinois is in fiscal crisis, with no easy solutions. Many tools will be needed to fix the problem, according to policy experts.

The Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox is a virtual resource center providing papers that assess policy options and frame the issues surrounding Illinois’ precarious budget situation. Using high quality academic scholarship, leading policy experts from the University of Illinois provide a nonpartisan overview of the state’s fiscal situation and evaluate the pros and cons of a variety of revenue and spending options.

The U of I Extension Local Government Information and Education Network, in partnership with the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA), will present an opportunity to learn more about this project and interact with the scholars through a series of upcoming webinars.

The webinars will be offered on the second Tuesday of the month beginning at noon. Session topics and speakers include:

May 13 – Toolbox Fundamentals

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Overview of the Economic Situation; David Merriman, UIC, Public Administration

  • The “Do Nothing” Option; J. Fred Giertz, UIUC, Economics

  • Making the 2011 Tax Increase Permanent; Richard F. Dye, UIC, The Fiscal Futures Project


June 10 – Tools to Address Revenue

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Increasing Sin Taxes; Julian Reif and John Schneider, UIUC, Economics

  • Business Tax Options; David Merriman, UIC, Public Administration

  • Sales Tax Options; J. Fred Giertz, UIUC, Economics


August 12 – Tools to Address Spending

  • About the Toolbox Project; Christopher Z. Mooney, Director of IGPA

  • Bending the Curve; Richard Winkel, Director of IGPA Office of Public Leadership

  • Waste and Abuse in Human Affairs Spending; Elizabeth Powers, UIUC, Economics

  • Health Spending; Anthony Lo Sasso, UIC, Health Policy and Administration

  • Better Fiscal Planning; Nancy Hudspeth, UIC, The Fiscal Futures Project


September 9 – Important Questions about Redistricting in Illinois

  • Brian Gaines, UIUC Public Policy; Christopher Z Mooney, Director of IGPA; Richard Winkel, Director of IGPA Office of Public Leadership


Registration is required and can be done at You will be provided log-on information so that you may participate in the program from your home or your office via the Internet.

Each session will be recorded and posted at

The Illinois Budget Toolbox is a project by the Illinois Institute of Government Policy and Public Affairs. The webinar series is presented in partnership with University of Illinois Extension Local Government Information and Education Network.

Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program boosts skills of manufacturing workforce

Program boosts skills of manufacturing workforce
Sunday, April 20, 2014
by Lenore Sobota lsobota

PONTIAC – A cooperative effort between the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council and Heartland Community College is providing a more well-rounded workforce for the area’s manufacturers, say those involved in the project.

The second group participating in the “Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing” training program graduated earlier this month, bringing to 26 the number who have completed the six-week, 100-hour program since it began last May.

Eleven of the 12 students in the first class were employed within one month of graduation and Adam Dontz, the EDC’s chief executive officer is expecting similar results from the second class.

Finding skilled, qualified employees is a key issue with economic development, Dontz said.

Manufacturing is the largest employment sector in Livingston County, with a dozen manufacturers providing about 2,500 jobs in the county, Dontz said.

“What we’ve done is married the business community with the academic community and, through that partnership, we’ve been successful,” he said.

A handful to students already had jobs when they started the program, but Dontz said the training makes them more valuable to the company and allows them to move up…


Basic Arc Welding Class Registration

1100 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764

Thursday and Friday, June 12-13, 2014
Monday through Friday, June 16-20, 2014
Monday through Friday, June 23-27, 2014

8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Total Cost $300

For more information or to sign up, call 815-842-2557
Registration deadline Thursday, June 5, 2014


Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program graduating class of 2014

By Cynthia Grau/Daily Leader
Staff Reporter
April 12, 2014

Fourteen students made it through their program and graduated Friday afternoon and are now looking forward to life in the working world.


The second class of the Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing, a workforce training program offered by the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council, walked through commencement ceremonies Friday afternoon at the Livingston County Historic Courthouse.

The students completed 100 hours of instruction led by Heartland Community College faculty at the Pontiac Caterpillar facility with lab instruction at HCC, Normal. Graduates included Maria Blair, Christopher Close, Kurt Keefer, David Mabe, Cindy Pozdol, Sheri Thurston, Kasey Branscum, Joyce Colwell, Kay Grizzle, Danielle Lang, Mitchell Nelson, Kevin Raifsnider and Travis Williams.

After completing the course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. Based on past results, placement rates are anticipated to exceed 90 percent. Participating businesses include Anthony Liftgates, Caterpillar, Exact Packaging, Hoffman Tool, Interlake Mecalux, Grundy-Kankakee-Livingston 1Workforce Investment Board, Quanex1, 1Kerry Group, Manpower1, RKO Saw and Tool1, Selig Sealants, Johnson Press of America, PTC Alliance, Slagel Manufacturing and Technical Metals.

Adam Dontz, CEO of the GLCEDC, greeted graduates and attendees.

“These 14 students are better equipped to either become employed or further their career in manufacturing,” Dontz said.

He added that the program currently has a 100 percent graduation rate and a 92 percent job placement rate, resulting from the first graduating class nine months ago.

“The intent of this program is three-fold. First, we sought to increase the skills and abilities of our local workforce,” Dontz explained. “By doing so, this program has already assisted those who are unemployed gain employment.”

Second, he said, they aim to add value to the single largest employment sector in Livingston County, which is manufacturing. Third of all, the successful completion of the program sends a message to businesses looking to make an investment into Livingston County.

“This is truly a public/private sector partnership,” Dontz said.

Dontz introduced Rob Widmer, president of Heartland Community College, who congratulated graduates on what he called “quite an achievement.”

“It’s a testament to your commitment to your perseverance and I’m sure quite a bit of sacrifice in the process,” Widmer said. “These are the hours you would have been with your family, hours you would have been driving to secure other employment, but this certainly is a testament to your efforts.”

Susan Toher, operations manager for Caterpillar, Inc., gave the day’s commencement address and spoke about the path she took to get to the job she serves currently.

“Sometimes you just have to try something that feels a little uncomfortable and assume that that step is going to lead to another and lead to another step,” Toher said.

She continued, saying her career wasn’t like a ladder, but more of a meandering path, which has worked out for her.

“I hope you take choices and risks and adventures, so you can find your own path,” Toher said.

Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program 2015 graduation ceremony announcement

The Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council (GLCEDC) is announcing the graduation ceremony for the second Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing Skills training program.

“The successful completion of this program marks the largest customized training program provided in Livingston County by Heartland Community College,” said Adam Dontz, CEO of the GLCEDC.

Fourteen students recently completed the 100-hour session developed by Heartland Community College (HCC) and the GLCEDC, with input from close to a dozen Livingston County companies. The public ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, April 11 in Pontiac’s Historic Livingston County Courthouse.

Susan Toher, Operations Manager at Caterpillar Pontiac and HCC Foundation Board member, is the commencement speaker.

The Fundaments of Modern Manufacturing Skills training program helps unemployed and under-employed residents of Livingston County upgrade their workforce readiness. After completing the course, graduates are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. Based on past results, placement rates are anticipated to exceed 90 percent.

Participating businesses include: Anthony LiftGates, Caterpillar, Exact Packaging, Hoffman Tool, Interlake Mecalus, Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston County Workforce Investment Board, Kerry Group, Manpower, Quanex, RKO Saw & Tool, Selig Sealants, Johnson Press of America, PTC Alliance, Slagel Manufacturing, and Technical Metals.

Classes begin approximately every six months, but could be more often depending on the amount of interested participants.

According to HCC Customized Training Coordinator, Austin Grammer, “This program provides adults with skills essential to Livingston County employers. The addition of these graduates to the workforce will be a definite boon to the local economy.”

Dontz first pitched the idea to the Livingston County Board a little more than a year ago and was given overwhelming support for the program and has since proven its success.

“The GLCEDC brought Livingston County’s manufacturing industry leaders together with Heartland Community College in an effort to enhance the skills of our local workforce. The program curriculum was created as Heartland’s deans sat alongside business leaders who expressed the skills that are needed in today’s sophisticated and computerized manufacturing environment,” Dontz said. “(The time frame) from discussing the needs of Livingston County business leaders to the first class graduating will be approximately six months. This quick and results-orientated action is what it takes to be competitive in today’s business climate and it’s exactly what Livingston County and the GLCEDC are capable of delivering.”

For questions about the program or graduation ceremony, contact Dontz or visit

For more information about Customized Training at Heartland Community College, visit

WJEZ podcast on 2014 Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

WJEZ 98.9 FM Interview with Adam Dontz of the GLCEDC about job training, new members, and more.

Air Date: February 19, 2014


Welding Class to be Offered at LACC

The Livingston Area Career Center (LACC) is offering a BASIC GAS METAL ARC WELDING-MIG WELDING CLASS in February, 2014.

Monday through Thursday, February 3 — February 6, 2014
Monday through Thursday, February 10 — February 13, 2014
Monday through Thursday, February 17 — February 20, 2014

4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Total Cost $300

For more information or to sign up, call 815-842-2557
Registration deadline January 27, 2014


Small Business EXPO Sept 2013


Making credit accessible to small businesses and entrepreneurs is crucial to our continued economic recovery. Small businesses employ one-half of all Americans and they account for about 60% of overall job creation. But knowing where to turn for help can often be an intimidating task. The Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo is your opportunity to meet with representatives from many of the organizations providing loans, direct financial assistance and additional types of support to many of the businesses in McLean County.

Get the information you need to help your business grow. Attend the Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo, Tuesday, September 17, 2013 from 8:30-10:30am in the Hansen Student Center at Illinois Wesleyan University. Speak to only the representatives you want to meet with. Get answers to your specific questions. Arrange a consultation targeted to your individual business needs and grow your business.

Organizations and Resources Represented include:

Career Link
City of Bloomington
Economic Development Council of Bloomington-Normal
Heartland Community College – Customized Training
Illinois Business Financial Services
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Illinois Department of Employment Security
Illinois Finance Authority
Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center
International Trade Center / NAFTA Opportunity Center
Procurement Technical Assistance Center
McLean County Chamber of Commerce
McLean/Livingston County SCORE
Small Business Development Center at Illinois State University
United States Department of Agriculture
U.S Small Business Administration

The Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Expo is FREE, but advance registration is required.

To register, go to and, under the Events tab, click “Online Registration” or call Diane Siron at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, 309-829-6344.


GLCEDC Board approves funds for Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing program

by Cynthia Grau
April 12. 2013 1:18PM

Board approves GLCEDC funds for skill training

Adam Dontz, chief executive officer of the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council approached the Livingston County Board Thursday evening to request approval of granting funds for a program that will bring education to those interested in the manufacturing field.

The $42,900 requested had already been approved by the finance committee for the Manufacturing Skills Training Program, but had to be presented to the full board for a final vote. He said that the purpose of the GLCEDC is to attract new businesses to the area, but to also help businesses grow. He said in working with several local manufacturing businesses in Livingston County and the surrounding areas, he has learned of the importance of a job training program focused on manufacturing skills.

Dontz explained that has been working with Heartland Community College to create a 100-hour, six-week training program. Each class will have a maximum of 20 students, who not only have to meet specific requirements but also pass drug tests. After completing the course, the students are guaranteed an interview at all of the participating businesses. After being employed for 90 days, a portion of the tuition for the program will be reimbursed from the company back to the revolving education fund.

The Livingston County Board demonstrated its continued support of creating jobs and spurring local investment by supporting a manufacturing skills training program spearheaded by the GLCEDC and the local manufacturing industry. The GLCEDC brought Livingston County’s manufacturing industry leaders together with Heartland Community College in an effort to enhance the skills of our local workforce. The program curriculum was created as Heartland’s deans sat alongside business leaders who expressed the skills that are needed in today’s sophisticated and computerized manufacturing environment,” he said. “(The time frame) from discussing the needs of Livingston County business leaders to the first class graduating will be approximately six months. This quick and results orientated action is what it takes to be competitive in today’s business climate and it’s exactly what Livingston County and the GLCEDC are capable of delivering.”

After several comments from board members in support of the measure, as well as a few worried about funding another program, the board voted approve the request, with only Carolyn Gerwin and Mark Runyon voting against it. Dontz said he was happy with the outcome.

If folks are interested in enrollment information for the class they should contact Sandy Erschen at the Pontiac Manpower Office at 815-844-5091.”

Now Recruiting Manufacturing Training Students

Manpower Now Recruiting 20 Manufacturing Training Students

Apply today

Tuition $2,235
If you qualify your cost is $90
Train for Your Future in Manufacturing. Partners are ready to invest in you and turn your abilities into employable skills.  Several Livingston County Manufacturing Employers Are Guaranteeing Interviews!  Heartland Community College has a comprehensive, customized training program providing you the skills local manufactures really want.

This six-week training program is geared toward adult learners



Call Manpower to get your assessments started to see if you qualify

  • Ability Train to Gain Skill
  • Math Technical Math
  • Reading Reading for Information
  • Proper etiquette Work Ethics
  • Safety Manufacturing Safety
  • Attention to detail Quality Work
  • Mechanically inclined Principles of Manufacturing
  • Call Manpower at 815-844-5091
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