Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that $1.25 million in recovered TIF funds will be used to create new state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing programs at Austin Polytechnical Academy, to train the workforce in Chicago’s neighborhoods and grow opportunity for the future of Chicago’s economy.
“Investing in our children and their futures is a key priority of my administration and this funding will allow thousands of Chicago’s children to get high-paying jobs in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I’m proud to be able to reinvest these recovered TIF funds into a neighborhood program that will directly impact the lives of Chicago’s families and strengthen our city’s economy for the future.”
The $1.25 million in funding is Chicago’s share of the $5.6 million in TIF funds that was returned by United Airlines on Monday of this week. Mayor Emanuel has committed to use returned TIF funds to support investment in the city’s key priorities and neighborhoods.
Founded in 2007 by the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, Austin Polytechnical Academy is a college and career prep high school with a focus on manufacturing and engineering. Students learn about careers in all aspects of the industry, from skilled production and engineering to management and company ownership -- plus related sectors like intellectual property law. More than 60 industry partners work in conjunction with the Academy to provide students with mentoring, field trips, work experience, and other enrichment opportunities.
“Austin Polytechnical Academy has always been about training students to get good jobs so they can have productive, steady careers,” said Ali Muhammad, principal of Austin Polytechnical Academy. “This funding will allow Austin Polytechnical Academy to continue its evolution and adaptation to the modern economy, and we are pleased to be implementing one of the Mayor’s key goals.”
The financing will fund the following five programs:
o The Austin Manufacturing Innovation Park – The goal of this program is to begin the exploratory phase of building a manufacturing campus in Austin that would help local manufacturers access innovation and new technologies as well as skilled workforce.
o The Austin Polytech Career program – This program has an annual mission of recruiting partner companies to provide exposure to manufacturing careers through internships and other programming.
o The Austin Manufacturing Training Program – This is a machining training and credentialing program for adults, that meets on evenings, weekends, and in the summer. 45 to 50 students will be in the program.
o Elementary school outreach – This funding will include a budget for outreach to elementary schools to get students interested in pursuing STEM education, manufacturing training, engineering and technology.
o The ACT bridge program – The ACT bridge program prepares African-American males, ages 18 and up, with the math and English skills needed for community colleges or the Austin Manufacturing Training Program (or similar training and vocational programs).
“This crucial funding will allow us to take a decisive step forward in establishing Chicago as a hub for advanced manufacturing and a national leader in this growing and crucial field,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor and Co-Chair of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council. “I believe that by training our young workers and helping them into these apprenticeship programs, we will establish a base of leadership that will help Chicago move forward for years to come.”
The funding of an advanced manufacturing program is in line with a key strategy of the city’s overarching economic development plan, the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, produced by World Business Chicago at Mayor Emanuel’s request earlier this year. Ramirez, who is a member of the steering committee for the plan, is the leader of the sub-committee charged with implementation of that key strategy.
“Becoming a leader in advanced manufacturing is an important strategy with real potential for impact,” said Michael Sacks, vice-chairman of World Business Chicago. “The implementation of these funds to train Chicago’s youth is a major step toward this goal, and underscores the value of a comprehensive plan to coordinate Chicago’s growth.”
The funding of Austin Polytechnical Academy was met with praise from the Austin community.
"This is a wonderful program for the Austin neighborhood and the surrounding communities,” said Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th ward. “This is a great example of how we can develop partnerships between public and private institutions to provide opportunity for our young people to get world-class education and jobs.”