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McHenry High School District 156 plans manufacturing trades expo

Rob Jessup, president of Jessup Manufacturing in McHenry, gives a tour of the factory to local educators and city officials Friday ahead of a McHenry High School District 156 manufacturing and trades industry expo.
Rob Jessup, president of Jessup Manufacturing in McHenry, gives a tour of the factory to local educators and city officials Friday ahead of a McHenry High School District 156 manufacturing and trades industry expo.

McHENRY – McHenry School District 156 is planning a career expo that focuses on the manufacturing trades industry in collaboration with the city of McHenry, McHenry County College and more than 50 businesses.

The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at McHenry High School East Campus, 1012 N. Green St. The expo will feature more than 50 exhibitors. The event is open to any middle or high school student or parent in McHenry County.

Educators, workforce and economic development leaders met with city officials Friday to discuss the expo and its importance at a tour of Jessup Manufacturing in McHenry. The company runs McHenry and Lake Bluff locations and frequently has difficulty filling positions, company President Rob Jessup said.

The trade event and the partnerships are a way to ensure McHenry County students have the best chance for success after they leave high school, District 156 Superintendent Ryan McTauge said.

“Our No. 1 priority is to make sure our students leave us with every option and every opportunity available to them,” McTauge said. “By partnering with community business leaders, by partnering with manufacturing representatives … we can ensure that success. We can make sure we have the right curricular pathways. We can make sure we have the right interactions and connection so our kids have every opportunity.”

District 156 offers manufacturing and trades curriculum for its students, and McHenry County College offers various trades programs as well.

MCC President Clinton Gabbard said the importance of events such as this include raising awareness.

“The only way you can share manufacturing is to get them into these places to see what they do,” Gabbard said. “It’s not just the cool factor. It’s the standard of living factor. The ability to support families and have a great lifestyle here. You can’t do that until you somehow get them to connect that with what is going on in manufacturing.”

This will be the district’s second annual event, and officials project that hundreds of students from around the county will attend.

Seniors who attend and plan to enter secondary trade or technical areas are eligible to win one of three $1,000 scholarships. Any student who attends is eligible to win signed Blackhawks memorabilia.

McHenry Economic Development Director Doug Martin said one of the goals important to the city and the county at large is to grow the workforce.

“People don’t understand what these companies do here and the impact that they have,” Martin said. “This is all about partnerships. … It’s an ongoing effort to not only show morale but sustain an entire community.”

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