Charlie Bovard told a group of businesspeople last week his job as director of the Center for Business and Industry involves him in economic development, but not in the way many might think.
Instead of working to attract new business to the area, Bovard seeks to maintain a skilled local workforce for both new and existing businesses.
"We're engaged in training, but at the end of the day, it's about economic development," Bovard said. "One component of economic development is protecting the jobs already here.
"The best way to do that is by developing a quality workforce."
Bovard and Lake Land College colleague Cindy Shupe were speakers at the monthly First Friday luncheon sponsored by the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.
The Center for Business and Industry helps students develop technical skills, soft (intangible) skills, software proficiency and technical writing skills. Bovard said the center also oversees the college's commercial driver training.
"We call it the four weeks to 40K class," Bovard said. "After four weeks of training, our CDL graduates can make about $40,000 a year out of the gate."
The center also addresses career path and lifelong learning issues in a customized manner. In addition, certificates are offered for machine operation, health care customer service, quality processes, inventory control and warehouse operations, to name a few.
"We train people in business for business," Bovard said.
Bovard added the center documents all training on college transcripts. In some cases, he said, the training can be used for credit at a four-year institution.
The center also offers a lab for manufacturing skills. Bovard compared it to high school industrial arts programs that have increasingly been cut in recent years.
Bovard said the lab targets students who may not be the most academically inclined.
"Not everybody is going to Eastern (Illinois University) or the U of I (University of Illinois), or maybe even Lake Land College," he said.
Bovard showed a video featuring technical training specialist Randy Strohl, who said most courses in the lab last 24 or 36 hours.
"We believe we offer a sense of connection between our lab and business," Strohl said. "We work with businesses when they need it, where they need it."
For more information about the center, Bovard may be contacted at email@example.com.
Shupe, program coordinator for the college's highway construction careers program, said her program helps train workers for major road construction jobs with four weeks of classroom training, followed by eight weeks of hands-on training.
"This gives them the opportunity to learn about all different kinds of trades," Shupe said.
Students also receive CPR and workplace safety certification. Shupe said the eventual goal is to place students in the road construction industry.
"They learn about people skills Ñ lots of math Ñ teamwork and stress management," she said.
Shupe said she conducts courses throughout Illinois Department of Transportation District 7, which extends from the Decatur area southeast to Wabash County. It includes the Effingham area.
Shupe said her program is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation through a grant from the Illinois Community College Board. it is one of 10 such programs in the state.
Courses are held throughout the region at various times.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at firstname.lastname@example.org