New Video Released! 2015 Discover Manufacturing Career Expo! Watch it here

Discover Manufacturing Career Expo Set for Thursday, October 22, 2015

The world of manufacturing has come a long way from the grimy image many people envision when they think of a factory career, and hundreds of local high school students will soon have the opportunity to see first-hand the career opportunities available in the modern manufacturing industry.

The 2015 North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo will be from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 22, 2015. For the third year, the Discover Manufacturing Career Expo will connect local high school students and manufacturers to help raise awareness of manufacturing opportunities in the Illinois Valley and beyond.

“Many students are surprised by what they find at the Expo. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about careers they expect to see in manufacturing, like engineering, mechanics, or welding. It’s also an opportunity to discover more unexpected manufacturing career paths, such as chemistry, finance, sales and marketing,” said Ralph Moshage, Corporate Engineering Manager for Carus Corporation and Event Co-Chair for the Discover Manufacturing Career Expo.

One Illinois Valley native who has gone on to an exceptional career in the manufacturing industry will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Expo.

Ted Biagioni, who grew up in Spring Valley graduated from Hall High School. He will share his experiences in the U.S. Navy and his manufacturing career with Harley Davidson with students at the Expo.

The full-day event will bring students from 13 area high schools to tour local manufacturers and to Illinois Valley Community College’s new Peter Miller Community Technology Center. While touring the manufacturing locations students will see first-hand the multitude of career opportunities available in the modern manufacturing industry. Afterward, the students will tour IVCC’s facility while learning about post-high school educational opportunities that could prepare them for careers in manufacturing. They also will have additional opportunities to speak with representatives of the participating manufacturing companies.

Students will tour the facilities of Carus Corporation, SABIC, Black Brothers, Vactor, Allegion (LCN Closers), Gardner Denver, Eakas, Flint Hills and James Hardie..

The event is a true collaboration between business, educators, and local community members. The North Central Regional Betterment Coalition, lead sponsor for the Expo, spearheaded this project by convening regional stakeholders interested in improving the economic climate of North Central Illinois.

The North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo is possible due to the support of sponsors, including Carus Corporation, Eakas, Imagine U Studio, Allegion (LCN Closers), SABIC, Vactor, MCS Advertising, Flint Hills, James Hardie, Black Brothers and MMI. Along with event sponsors, the North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo relies on a large group of partners, including North Central Regional Betterment Coalition, Illinois Valley Community College, Starved Rock Associates for Vocational and Technical Education, Society for Human Resource Management, , and LaSalle-Peru Township High School.

Spring Valley Community Wide Forum-The Economic Value of Education

A coalition of major stakeholders and education advocates in Spring Valley will hold a community wide forum on Tuesday March 11th on the new importance of education in determining the economic prospects for the city and its residents. The meeting will be held at the Spring Valley City Hall in its City Hall Community Room, 215 N. Greenwood St. beginning at 6:30pm. The sponsors of the forum are Hall Township High School, Illinois Valley Community College, City Spring Valley, Spring Valley Boosters, Spring Valley Partners for Progress, and the North Central Regional Betterment Coalition. The featured speakers include Hall High School Superintendent Michael Struna, who will cover the impact of the most recent High School Performance Report Card, and IVCC President Dr. Jerry Corcoran who will draw the line from academic achievement to economic prosperity in a rapidly changing world. According to Spring Valley Economic Development Director Debb Ladgenski, “the meeting is intended for any resident of Spring Valley concerned about the future of their children, and/or the future of Spring Valley as a vibrant community.” Corcoran, who did 28 similar presentations across the college’s district in 2012-13, added, “All available data shows us how important a college education is to lifetime earnings. Individuals with even one-year certificates, let alone advanced degrees, can expect to make hundreds of thousands more over their working lives.” “Our mission is to get that message out; this event is an excellent opportunity to do just that.” Struna added, “Where we are now and where we need to go cannot be accomplished in a vacuum. I look forward to this opportunity to engage the residents of Hall Township in the process of further building an education process that prepares our students for the best future which awaits them” ===

October 23 regional manufacturing career expo promotes ready-to-work skills for students and community

Offering tax incentives or industrial parks are not enough to attract and retain industry in the 21st century. Local economies that can boast a competitive workforce system will succeed where others miss out. But where to start? What is a competitive workforce? When you ask that question of local manufacturers, they say that in addition to technical skills, real world skills are important on the job: Enthusiasm, productivity, problem solving, communication and dependability top the list. In North Central Illinois, a consortium of industry, business, education and community organizations decided to seek a project that builds on our area's existing strengths of the new Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) Technology Center and progressive, community-spirited manufacturers who easily envision the value of working together to achieve common goals and interests. Dr. Jerry Corcoran, President at Illinois Valley Community College begins the story of North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo: “After visiting the Peoria Manufacturing Expo last year with a number of our colleagues, I am convinced that replicating the Expo in Illinois Valley Community College’s eight-county district is a wonderful idea.” Since that time, North Central Regional Betterment Coalition (NCRBC) and its partners, Carus Corporation, IVCC, Starved Rock Association for Vocational & Technical Education (SRAVTE) and NCI Works have been diligently planning the October 23, 2013 premiere of the North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo. Patricia Walters, Expo Committee Chairman and NCRBC Board Member provided details on the project: "Discover Manufacturing Career Expo is an event aimed at bringing 300 area high school students and top notch area manufacturers together to raise awareness of job and educational opportunities, gain an understanding of training programs that are available around the area and see presentations from companies in the North Central Illinois region that are doing business around the globe." "The program is very forward-looking," said Walters, "It begins in the classroom with students conducting research on local manufacturers and learning business etiquette in preparation for the expo." Carus Corporation serves as the group’s manufacturing champion, advocating to the community and other manufacturers regarding the benefits of the Discover Manufacturing Career Expo program. Judy Wierman, Carus Corporation Human Resources Vice-President is excited about the Expo: “It is essential that Industry partner with Education to equip the next generation to make thoughtful choices in pursuit of their future career goals, while at the same time sustaining the Greater Illinois Valley area as a viable and growing geography for professional success. The Manufacturing Expo does just that; it provides a forum for students to explore a variety of career options, meet face-to-face with local employers and understand the educational and work-ready requirements needed to obtain employment in their field of interest and possible promotion to the next level on the career ladder.” The day's events begin with tours at Carus Chemical in LaSalle, Eakas in Peru, LCN in Princeton, Vactor in Streator, MBL in Ottawa and Black Bros. in Mendota. After touring one of the manufacturing facilities in the morning, the students will travel to Celebrations 150 for lunch and a short program. The keynote speaker will be manufacturing senior executive and LaSalle native, Daniel Janka, President, MAG IAS. In a 2012 interview given to the Cincinnati Business Courier, Janka said, "It is important to understand that manufacturing is no longer symbolized by the old smoke stack. We must educate [students] that manufacturing today is driven by very sophisticated computers, software and new innovative materials. Start early in the high schools. Learn math. Community colleges are an affordable way to gain a two-year technical degree." At Celebrations 150, local manufacturing representatives, including those companies hosting the morning's tours plus, Washington Mills in Hennepin, Gardner Denver in Princeton, Transco in Streator and others, as well as recent grads and educators will be available in booths surrounding the room and in group discussions to talk with the high school students about the many different career paths available in the area and the multitude of jobs that North Central Illinois manufacturing supports. Interactive displays of manufacturing products and equipment will provide a hands-on component to the experience. After the students depart at 1:30 PM, the Expo will then be open to the general public until 3:30 PM. Veterans, dignitaries, parents, vendors, manufacturing customers, partners and interested persons will have the opportunity to meet and greet our area’s industry leaders. North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo is modeled after and mentored by the very successful Peoria program, Discover Manufacturing Career Expo in Central Illinois. Steve Stewart, Human Resource Director of Excel Foundry in Pekin and Peoria's Expo Chairman says: "We are pleased to partner with NCRBC to assist in their first Manufacturing Career Expo in the North Central Illinois area. The expo is about our students, our families, our educators and our communities. We see this as a road map to educating our stakeholders about careers in manufacturing." "There are still a limited number of booths available for manufacturers," Walters said, "Don't wait for us to contact you. Please call on us if you would like have a 45-60 minute presentation on the value of event participation from our outreach team, J Burt, DeAnna Carlson, Dr. Conrad Spirrison and Patricia Walters. Non-manufacturing community partners also are encouraged to contact us if they would like to play a role in the Expo.” LaSalle-Peru Township High School Superintendent Steve Wrobleski and SRAVTE Director Mary Stouffer are in charge of gaining participation from area high schools and student coordination of the event. Mary Stouffer says, "It will be an enjoyable day for the students, as well as educational. There will be a grand prize drawing for one lucky student to receive a free iPad and drawings for several other kid-friendly prizes." Superintendent Wrobleski summed up the event saying: "We are very excited about launching our inaugural Discover Manufacturing Career Expo this October. We are appreciative of the support from our local businesses and the interest among the area high schools. It will be a great day for our students to learn more about the many career opportunities in manufacturing that exist here in our local communities." For further details, please contact North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo Committee Chairman Patricia Walters at 815-488-3256 or via email at What: North Central Illinois Discover Manufacturing Career Expo When: October 23, 2013, Plant tours in the morning from 9-10:45 AM; Celebrations 150 from 11-1:30 PM for Students, Dignitaries and Invited Guests; 1:30 -3:30 PM, Open to General Public Where: Plant Tours at: LCN, Princeton; Black Bros., Mendota; Vactor, Streator; MBL, Ottawa; Carus Chemical, LaSalle; Eakas, Peru Celebrations 150, 740 East US Route 6, Utica, Illinois 61373 Keynote Speaker: Daniel Janka, President MAG-IAS Current manufacturing participants: Carus-Corporation, LCN, Gardner-Denver, MBL, Black-Bros., Washington-Mills, Eakas, Vactor, Transco. Committee Members: IVCC-Jamie Gahm, Danielle Stoddard, Sue Isermann; Carus Corporation-Judy Wierman, John Stewart; SRAVTE-Mary Stouffer; NCI Works-Carrie Folken; NCRBC-J Burt, Steve Wrobleski, DeAnna Carlson, Dr. Conrad Spirrison, Patricia Walters. For further details, please contact Patricia Walters at 815-488-3256 or email

May 2013 Summer Chess Meet and Greets-Starved Rock Chess League

All Meet and Greets will be at Peru City Hall 1901 Fourth St. All events on Thursday June 6th, June 20th, July 18th, and August 1st. All time 1:00-3:00

Sponsored by Ford Farms, PDQ, S&J Electric, and NCRBC

March 2013 NCRBC Chess Meet and Greet! Our next event is Saturday April 13th 2013 at Peru City Hall Community Building. Students in grades 3-5 and 6-8 invited. Registration is at 9:00 and the intramural meet and greet runs 9:30 to 11:30. This is a predecessor to forming a regional interscholastic chess league in the fall. For more information contact DeAnna Carlson at

November 2012- NCRBC today is introducing its newest service: Podcasts for Educational Excellence. With a multitude of challenges and opportunities in education, the goal of Podcasts for Educational Excellence is to focus in on key issues and improvement options in a long interview format. The debut guest is Debra Kasperski. Kasperski is the Director of the National Board Resource Center Center at Illinois State University. Their mission is to advance teacher quality through National Board Certification. In the interview, listeners will be able to learn how National Board Certified Teachers, through rigorous course work, are prepared to effectively communicate with students who may come to school with different degrees of obstacles. Additional Podcasts will be added to the site on an ongoing basis. If you would like to be notified when additional Podcasts become available please send an email to Many thanks to Invisual Technologies of Spring Valley, NCRBC Board Member Hugo Heredia and his wife Jennifer Heredia for making Podcasts for Educational Excellence possible.

Summer 2012 NCRBC teamed up Dr. Jerry Corcoran and Fran Brolley from Illinois Valley Community College to help get our shared message out about the importance of higher education in economic development. There is now abundant research showing that communities which place a high priority of education become better positioned to attract good quality high paying jobs. The IVCC presentation quoted editorials from the Chicago Tribune and Census data to drive home these points. NCRBC Board members facilitated several of the presentations at regional Rotary, Kiwanis, and Business Development meetings. If your group would be interested in hearing this presentation please contact us at

November 2011
The North Central Regional Betterment Coalition congratulate the 40 Under 40 entrepreneurs and business people recently assembled by the Illinois Small Business Development Center at IVCC. The NCRBC has long believed that fostering the development and providing ongoing support to the younger professionals of LaSalle, Bureau, and Putnam county is one of the keys to economic revitalization.

We encourage you to read more about these key assets to our community here...
and here.

July 2011
The North Central Regional Betterment Coalition presents its 2011 Annual Report. We encourage to like us on Facebook, and follow the Share The Change Blog. Click here to see the report...

June 2011
Teachers are the most important resource we have for producing better educated kids. Better educated kids are the key to economic prosperity in today's world. However, not all teachers are equal. Some teachers, in an effort to be the most effective teachers they can possibly be, undergo the rigor of what is called National Board Certification. The NCRBC believes these teachers are very special. They should be celebrated in the community and well paid by their employers.
See the list!

March 2011
Moving Forward, Sharing the Change Exchange Blog Established
Join the conversation at the Share the Change Exchange Blog. Read the latest and voice your opinion!
Read the Share-the-Change Blog!

March 2011
Moving Forward, Sharing the Change
The Illinois P-20 Council is a statewide coordinating body composed of a diverse group of leaders in education charged with the responsibility of making recommendations at all levels of education in Illinois.
Read about the IL P-20 Council here.
Learn how YOU can participate here.

January 2011
NCRBC Votes to Support the 3/50 Project
At its January meeting the Board of Directors of the North Central Regional Betterment Coalition unanimously voted to support the 3/50 Project, and to encourage everyone in LaSalle, Bureau, and Putnam County to do the same. The design of the 3/50 Project is to encourage everyone to spend at least $50 a month across the 3 most self determined important local stores in your community.
Read our Position Paper on this important subject here.

December 2010
The Educational Advocacy Committee of the NCRBC believes one of the keys to better educational outcomes includes a greater level of Parental Engagement.
Read our Position Paper on this important subject here.

To learn more about the Education Advocacy Committee, click here.