Chicago could become central hub for advanced manufacturing

The manufacturing exploits of the Windy City have been well-documented recently. A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Urban Economic Development found manufacturing employment growth in the city had outpaced the national average between 2010 and third quarter 2012. Chicago's reputation as a regional, national and worldwide leader in manufacturing could be bolstered even further, as a recent report found the Second City could become a No.1 player in advanced manufacturing. Because of the need for highly skilled talent in advanced processes, firms can work with manufacturing recruiters to acquire only the best.

Innovation, workforce development spur growth
According to a recent report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the greater Chicagoland region can "excel in a new era" of advanced manufacturing by meeting growing demand, spurring technological innovation and cultivating skilled workers. The report noted the Chicago region's manufacturing productivity is already worth $65 billion and employs 580,000 workers, more than any other U.S. region besides one.

CMAP attributed Chicago's burgeoning advanced manufacturing repertoire to its diversity of manufactured products. While Detroit is synonymous with auto production, Chicago is not tied to any one singular industry. The report also pointed to the region's increasing attractiveness to top-line talent and commitment to evolving the manufacturing industry.

As defined by CMAP, advanced manufacturing is used to define processes that make complex products, requires operations be continuously improvedand and needs employees with a superior specialized skill set, all of which is in abundance in Chicago. Talent is in especially high demand, and Chicago recruiters can help firms find the skilled employees they need.

"After years of declining employment in manufacturing due to off-shoring of jobs, good positions are actually going unfilled due to an insufficient supply of skilled workers," said Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP executive director. "The shift to technology-intensive advanced manufacturing is creating new opportunities for businesses and workers here in metropolitan Chicago. Our report shows that today's factory jobs often require not only math, reading, and critical thinking, but increasingly also call for workers to understand materials, physics, chemistry, engineering, or computer programming."

However, Chicago may need some help getting to what the report envisions as a semi-utopic mecca for advanced manufacturing. Namely, CMAP recommended the city improve its transportation infrastructure, focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and invest in emerging manufacturing technologies like nanotech.