COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Economic Development Corp. and the Whitley Works program, with support from Purdue’s Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center, are celebrating the role of manufacturing in our local economy throughout the month of October.

The National Association of Manufacturers, the nation’s largest industrial trade association, deemed Friday, Oct. 5, as National Manufacturing Day. Manufacturing Day was created to celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers. It’s an annual celebration that brings together manufacturers, students, educators, businesspeople, community leaders and elected officials in a collective effort to promote manufacturing, improve public perceptions and educate the community on the opportunities available in manufacturing.

The Whitley County EDC and the Whitley Works program partnered to bring students and local manufacturers. Several manufacturing companies in Whitley County provided tours to high school students from Churubusco, Columbia City and Eagle Tech Academy.

“It was a great opportunity for staff and students alike to see the diverse manufacturing companies and options in our county,” said Rob Bell, Columbia City High School dean of students. “It was eye-opening to learn about the global footprint we have from companies right here in Whitley County.”

Whitley County is home to many manufacturing companies leading the way, and serving a variety of industries from automotive, agriculture, aerospace, defense, medical device, food processing and more.

“Tours of area businesses allow students to explore career options and see the impact of businesses right here in our community. We can’t expect students to know what they want to do for a career if they aren’t able to explore different possibilities,” Whitley Works Program Director Lori Heuer said.

Purdue IN-MaC awarded the EDC with a $2,000 micro-grant to help support efforts in promoting events throughout the month.

“IN-MaC is excited to partner with Whitley County Economic Development Corporation and Whitley Works program. We know that the best way to introduce students to career opportunities in manufacturing and STEM is to see it firsthand. Through tours, camps and other experiential learning opportunities such the ones Whitley County is making possible,” Lisa Deck, Purdue IN-MaC Education Workforce Development program manager said.

If you or someone you know is looking for a job, manufacturing companies in Whitley County are hiring. Local manufacturers employ one-third of Whitley County’s workers, and the average manufacturing wage in Whitley County is more than $50,000 a year. See local job opportunities by visiting the “local career postings” page on the EDC website, whitleyedc.com.