New business opportunities presented to area manufacturers

June 28, 2013 04:18 PM
Several businesses from the Galesburg/West Central Illinois Region gathered at Carl Sandburg College’s Business Technology Center (BTC) to participate in a ‘Supply Chain Matchmaking’ workshop organized by the city’s Economic Development team and the EBI Network. The featured presenter was Mike Zefara, General Manager, Global Supply Chain, for National Railway Equipment (NRE).NRE, headquartered in Mt. Vernon, IL, is the world's largest independent supplier of new and remanufactured locomotives with 14 facilities worldwide and five in Illinois.
According to Gary Camarano, Galesburg’s Global Strategies Director, "This workshop allows several of our region’s fabricators and OEMs to sit down with a premier manufacturer of locomotives and discuss opportunities to become part of their supply chain. One participant told me that securing a supplier agreement with NRE, if closed, could result in 25 new hires. That’s significant, and would have a meaningful impact on our local economy."
NRE’s Mike Zefara added, "We talked with a lot of high quality companies today and intend to actively pursue supply chain relationships with the businesses we met today. The workshop gave us exposure to the right manufacturers and could result in some meaningful business relationships for NRE." 
The workshop also allowed businesses to discuss a proposal for a ‘3D Printer Time Share’ program for the region’s manufacturers. 3D Printers are relatively new to the manufacturing world and are excellent tools to quickly and cost effectively design, produce and test prototypes. The tool can save dollars and months in production time and cost.
Bryan Ahee, VP Information Technology for Roseville’s Fusion Tech has been collaborating with Camarano in putting together the ‘3D Printer Time Share’ program and has prior experience with them, stating, "The 3D Printer can have significant benefits for our region’s manufacturers. By acquiring and sharing a high-quality, industrial 3D Printer we can all share in cost savings and quick turn arounds. No more waiting 6 – 8 weeks for prototypes and spending large sums of money – a manufacturer can program the tool before leaving for the night and see a finished prototype piece completed by the next morning. This will have a real impact on the businesses using the tool."
Carl Sandburg’s Dean Lauri White also gave the group an update on the school’s new Diesel Power Technology course scheduled for fall classes, and expansion of other vocational programs. White explained, "The College is actively seeking input from area businesses as to what types of skills are needed in the region and we are going to do our best to develop the courses to deliver them. Working with companies like BNSF, Simmers Crane and NRE, our Locomotive Repair program is on schedule for a fall debut. It’s very exciting to see this coming together."
Camarano noted, "Today’s workshop is a great example of collaboration in the region among the private sector, educational institutions and public sector economic development. We were able to accomplish a lot today – networking to establish potential business opportunities, planning to acquire a resource to make our businesses more competitive, and seeing workforce skills being offered by our local community college. I am pleased with today’s outcomes and look forward to our next steps."
Future ‘Supply Chain Workshops’ the region and discussions for the implementation of a ‘3D Printer Time Share’ will be planned and announced soon. Businesses seeking information on about these and other programs designed to assist businesses should contact Gary Camarano.   
Representatives from Intellihot, Fusion Tech, CRM USA, Kalb Corp. and General Grind and Machine participate in Galesburg's Supply Chain Matchmaking Workshop.


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