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Manufacturing Day events planned in Hammond, Starke County

Anurag Garg, keynote speaker for the daylong program on manufacturing sponsored by the Purdue Northwest Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center, watches beer bottles being processed during a tour Friday of Three Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster. The group also toured Land O’Frost, a meat packer in Lansing, Illinois.

Every year, plants throw open their doors to students on or around Manufacturing Day in October to try to pique their interest in a career in an evolving field that's been dogged by stereotypes of dour, dirty, back-breaking factory labor.

This year, nearly 1,200 Manufacturing Day events are planned nationwide, including at least two in the Region.

Purdue University Northwest College of Technology and its Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center are planning factory tours and a presentation at 6 p.m. Oct. 5 at 7150 Indianapolis Blvd. in Hammond.

In past years, Purdue University Northwest has organized tours of 3 Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster and Land O'Frost's meatpacking operation in Lansing but has not yet finalized this year's tours. 

Down in Starke County, the Starke County Economic Development Foundation will celebrate Manufacturing Day on Oct. 4 by hosting more than 350 seventh-grade students at Knox Middle School, where they will get a chance to familiarize themselves with local employers like Callisons, Elkay Manufacturing, Knox Fertilizer, Kruz, MPI, Toll Integrated Systems, Traffic Control Specialists and White Flyer.

At the "Cultivating Manufacturing Careers" event, students will learn what each company makes, what their products do, who buys them, what jobs they have, and what skills and education they would need to land a job there.

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“This is a wonderful opportunity for our local manufacturers to share their story with students," Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Larry Wickert said.

The Starke County Economic Development Foundation has staged the event for six years "as a way to answer industry’s cries for help in finding workers with proper job skills, and at the same time, engaging students in opportunities their home community can provide if they have the skills employers need." It's specifically targeting seventh graders so they can start planning their futures and educational pathway before entering high school.

It's also inviting parents and high school seniors, especially those who do not yet have a specific career path planned out, to take part in a Career Exploration career fair from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Knox Middle School Auxiliary gymnasium at 901 S Main St in Knox.

"With knowledge of what is at stake, it is hoped that students properly prepare for their future, whether it be college or a vocational program or going straight into the local workforce," the Starke County Economic Development Foundation said in a press release. 

For more information, visit www.scedf.biz or www.mfgday.com, which may be updated with more public events in the area as Manufacturing Day draws closer.

To register for Purdue University Northwest's Manufacturing Day presentation or tours, contact Deborah Blades at 219.989.2611 or bladesd@pnw.edu.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.