Congresswoman Cheri Bustos Hosts Successful Third Annual Economic Summit

Rep. Bustos encourages manufacturers to host a student or recent graduate as an apprentice or intern in 2016 to retain talented young people in our region.


ROCK ISLAND, IL – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos hosted the Third Annual Economic Summit at Augustana College, building upon roundtables she hosted earlier this year with manufacturers in Rockford, Peoria, and the Quad-Cities. This year’s summit focused on developing solutions to address the skills gap in the manufacturing industry, and the challenge of retaining young talent in the region.  Congresswoman Bustos was joined by more than 100 stakeholders from industry, labor, educational institutions, local government, recent graduates, and students.

“Revitalizing our manufacturing industry and improving the economy in northern, western and central Illinois have been my main priorities since I was first elected to Congress,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “I’m proud we’ve convened a diverse group of stakeholders to develop solutions that will help close the skills gap, which is one of the main concerns I hear again and again from employers and manufacturers across our region. One of my goals in hosting this summit was to help create and facilitate localized talent pipelines, where both employers and educational institutions can work together to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for good paying jobs right here in our manufacturing triangle.”

“This summit was a vital step forward,” said David Boulay, President of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center and the Economic Summit’s keynote speaker. “The manufacturing skills gap is well documented and is a real challenge for employers in Illinois. But by convening leaders from industry, education, and everywhere in between, this event will begin to move us from describing challenges to creating solutions.”

“Like many small manufacturers in Illinois, FRANTZ Manufacturing is facing an aging workforce and a shortage of skilled applicants to operate and maintain the machinery that produces our products,” said John Gvozdjak, President and Chief Operating Officer of FRANTZ Manufacturing Company. “Addressing the skills gap is critical so manufacturers can continue to produce quality products to compete in today’s global economy.   Manufacturers need to lead on this issue, and I am pleased that Congresswoman Bustos has organized this summit so that stakeholders can have these conversations.”

“Civic engagement is among the most important outcomes we seek to instill in our students, and so any opportunity to model meaningful discourse around complex issues is welcome,” said Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College. “My colleagues and I are grateful to Representative Cheri Bustos for the invitation to partner on the Economic Summit, and to help in bringing together leaders from across our region to address issues of vital importance to all of us.”