The Manufacturing Connect team hosted 55 youth from five high schools in Chicago to learn about manufacturing at HM Manufacturing, a power transmission components facility located in an industrial park in Wauconda, IL, and Freedman Seating, a company on Chicago’s West Side that manufactures seats and seating-related products for many different applications.

Nicole Wolter, President and CEO of HM Manufacturing, emphasized that “what we do is not your old-school manufacturing." Wolter shared with participants in the event that the company makes products for aerospace, defense, and medical components. At Freedman Seating one employee, Deandre Smith, graduated from the Manufacturing Connect program while he was a high school student in Chicago’s Austin community. “I really didn’t know if I wanted to go into manufacturing,” he says. “Thanks to Manufacturing Renaissance I was able to get an opportunity to come into manufacturing and learn. I was a teenager once like you guys,he said.I wanted to make money and get it the right way. I chose to work and it paid off.He added thatI was able to take care of myself, and purchased my own home.”