Governor visits Gateway’s iMET Center

April 12, 2013

From “Governor’s manufacturing message resonates at Gateway” — STURTEVANT — As Gov. Scott Walker shook hands around the room at Gateway Technical College’s SC Johnson iMET Center Thursday, Brandon Dear pressed a small metal disc into the governor’s hands.

“It was kind of a token of appreciation,” explained Dear — a welding circle with the technical college’s name and Walker’s initials stamped into the metal.

Walker spoke Thursday at the iMET, or Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology, Center as part of his Forward Manufacturing Tour, a statewide speaking circuit designed to connect with manufacturers and reinforce the value of the evolving industry to Wisconsin’s economy.

Dear, 24, was one of several Gateway students in attendance, along with local officials, business owners and state leaders who braved the rain to reach the center at 2320 Renaissance Blvd. in Sturtevant.

The governor reinforced positions from his state budget, including closing the skills gap through job training, and starting career tracks and workforce development training earlier. He talked about expanding exports to China, something the governor’s upcoming tour to the country is designed to foster.

Walker also summoned his oft-used punching bag to the south to favorably compare Wisconsin’s pension system, business taxes and bond rating to those in Illinois.

Those factors aside, in recent months Illinois’ job growth has actually increased at a faster rate than Wisconsin’s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which recently knocked the dairy state to No. 44 in job growth nationally.

Walker announced plans to stimulate those stumbling numbers by convening local business and political leaders near state lines, and “invite hundreds of northeastern Illinois manufacturers to come up and visit us.” The goal, he said, is to show them the state’s positive business climate and incentivizing tax credit, ideally luring businesses across state lines.

To Dear, those promises are personal. Gaining skills means getting a job, he said, and getting a job means providing for his family, including a three-year-old daughter.

Although he was more or less ambivalent on the governor’s specific proposals, Walker’s core idea really resonated with Dear: “We do need a lot more jobs,” he said. “We need skills to get a job that supports our families. (Gateway) gives us those skills.”


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