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New study highlights importance of manufacturing to Southern Illinois' economy
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New study highlights importance of manufacturing to Southern Illinois' economy

IMA press conference

Aaron Christ, operations manager at Intertape Polymer Group Inc.'s Carbondale facility, talks about the importance of manufacturing in Illinois during a press conference Wednesday.

CARBONDALE -- More than 15,800 workers are employed by manufacturing companies across nine Southern Illinois counties, according to the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

In Williamson County alone, manufacturing supports more than 4,839 jobs directly and indirectly. The sector generates about $1.3 billion in economic output, or nearly 11% of the county’s gross domestic product. In Jackson County, the sector supports 1,581 jobs, and generates about half-a-billion dollars in economic output, which is roughly 3% of its GDP.

These are among the local findings of a new economic analysis by the Illinois Manufacturing Association (IMA) examining the statewide and regional impacts of manufacturing companies.

Mark Denzler, the IMA’s president and chief executive officer, has been traveling the state as part of what the organization has billed a “Manufacturing Matters Illinois” tour to bring attention to the study and policy issues of importance to manufacturers.

He joined local officials in Carbondale on Wednesday on the campus of Intertape Polymer Group Inc. in Carbondale. The company produces specialized tape products, protective packing and complementary equipment. Its products are used in the automotive, shipping and appliance industries, among many others, said Aaron Christ, operations manager at the Carbondale facility.

Intertape Polymer, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec and Sarasota, Florida, employs about 3,500 people in 30 locations -- 22 of them in North America, three in Asia and one in Europe, according to the company’s website.

It employs about 150 workers at its Carbondale Plant on McRoy Drive.

“Manufacturing products that are used in so many different industries provides IPG a front seat view of how industrial manufacturing is changing and growing in the United States,” Christ said in a statement.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Denzler and Christ discussed the need to attract more young people to manufacturing jobs. Christ said his company employs a number of workers without much job experience, providing them valuable experience and training. He also said the company is open to second-chance programs for people who have reformed their lives after struggling with addiction or run-ins with the law.

Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, added that this year’s legislative session provided important new money for workforce training initiatives.

The IMA’s economic analysis found that, overall, the manufacturing industry in Illinois generates $304.8 billion in output each year, or about 12% of the state’s GDP. That’s the single largest contributor by any industry in the state, according to IMA. Manufacturers directly employ about 592,200 workers statewide, providing an average salary of $88,691, and a total of $52 billion in wages and benefits. Of these workers, 92% are eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance, according to Denzler.


On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​


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