Acting DCEO director makes rounds with area businesses

Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Erin Guthrie and Bryant Burke, vice president of GatesAir, tour the Gates Air manufacturing building on Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2019. Guthrie toured local manufacturing businesses to learn more about Quincy's economy. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 24, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Meeting with local manufacturers Erin Guthrie heard the need for workers.

The acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said there are good jobs available at firms in the region, but the available qualified workers can't keep up with demand.

"But they just can't seem to find them," Guthrie said. "So we're working on programs that can help make better matches to help build that skill development and match workers to jobs."

Guthrie spent Tuesday in Quincy visiting local manufacturers and sitting in on a economic development roundtable. Her comments were made during a tour of GatesAir in Quincy

One item that stood out to Guthrie in discussions with business leaders was thinking of the "whole person" in a community.

"A gentleman brought up the example of a woman who needed to access childcare, and when you're thinking about retraining your workforce, you need to make sure you're thinking about that whole person," she said. "We really want to work across government in my department to make sure that we're not just thinking about what commerce is doing but what are the other services doing, so we're really helping people accessing jobs in their communities."

One of the first major projects in leading DCEO is a new five-year development plan, which she said will be presented to Gov. J.B. Pritzker next week.

"It lays out several industries that we want to continue to invest in and grow here in Illinois," she said. "Things like manufacturing, things like transportation logistics that are the bedrock of this economy and also investing for things for the future like clean energy and IT where we think we can really continue to lead in the country."

She believes the state does well in investing in renewable energy and IT, but she thinks the state could do more.

"The governor has laid out a plan to be in line with the Paris Accord, so I think that's going to create a lot of jobs and opportunities for innovative companies doing clean energy to grow here in Illinois," Guthrie said.

She said a road map is needed for each region of the state.

"We're managing $2 billion of capital over the next five years including broadband and other investments, so taking the feedback from the local community from our big industries that we want to focus on and then building out a plan that we want to execute over the next five years," Guthrie said.

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