U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $5 Million to Support Advanced Manufacturing Academy At Rend Lake College

 INA, Ill. (June 23, 2022) — Rend Lake College has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to construct a new manufacturing academy. This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance program. Grant awards under this program help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs.

"The Southern Illinois Manufacturing Academy (SIMA) will be a state-of-the-art manufacturing training center located at the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon," stated RLC's Vice President of Instruction & Student Affairs, Lori Ragland. "Rend Lake College and its consortium partners, Southeastern Illinois College and Kaskaskia College, will collaborate on outreach, enrollment, training, employer engagement, and job placement throughout its Southern Illinois footprint.”

This grant will expand manufacturing workforce training opportunities in a region that the declining use of coal has impacted. The EDA investment will be matched with $1.2 million in local funds to support the programming necessary to address current skill gaps and the retirement-induced staffing crisis.

"This exciting project will feature high-demand industry skills training for well-paying manufacturing jobs," Ragland added. "It will serve new and incumbent workers through hands-on application to validate learned skills. SIMA will include a working manufacturing environment where participants will demonstrate competencies based on industry criteria. The training will be a direct correlation to the feedback received from employers in the manufacturing sector. The Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission has been instrumental during the grant application process, and we will continue to work closely with them throughout the project.”

“I am most proud of the growth and maturity of our relationship with our partner colleges, where we are working together to advance our communities and the entire region rather than competing against each other to attain lesser accomplishments," stated Rend Lake College President, Terry Wilkerson. "My hat is off to Presidents Rice and Evans for working with me in leading the future over managing the present.”

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