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Strengthening the manufacturing workforce with new Advanced Technology Center

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Dec 18, 2020

 College of Lake County (CLC) is creating a world-class Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Gurnee, Illinois. After evaluating the workforce and economic needs in Lake County, CLC developed plans for a center of advanced manufacturing excellence to provide industry-relevant career pathways in early 2022.

Advanced Technology Center"Manufacturing is the backbone of Lake County’s economy and College of Lake County is committed to ensuring a skilled workforce talent pipeline exists to support industry needs and future growth opportunities,” said CLC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. William M. Griffin. “This will be accomplished through the expansion of short and long-term credentials, incumbent worker training and new program development that aligns with industry needs.”

Photo: the site of CLC’s future ATC from above

CLC President Dr. Lori Suddick said the college will engage its workforce ecosystem partners, including local manufacturers, vendors, workforce and economic development, as well as education and community agencies in the design and launch of the ATC.

“Together, we can make sure Lake County retains and attracts manufacturers because a highly skilled career and talent pipeline exists, ensuring every individual in Lake County has an opportunity for economic and social mobility through educational attainment and a rewarding career,” she said. “The ATC will house state-of-the-art equipment to support programs designed for accelerated completion of coursework delivered by subject matter expert faculty that is aligned to industry needs.”

ATC BuildingLake County is the second largest manufacturing county in Illinois. Locally, manufacturing companies employ more than 50,700 people, generating $35.7 billion in economic output per year. But job growth is outpacing the number of skilled workers available and recent research from the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) shows the region can benefit from and is ready to invest in an ATC.

Photo: the ATC will occupy the former Lowe’s in Gurnee

The ATC serves as the catalyst to propel Lake County further into the forefront of modern, global technologies through innovative workforce development initiatives. The ATC will become a focus of economic development for key opportunities including welding and computerized numeric control (CNC). Beyond bricks and mortar, the ATC operation is a conscious effort to bring together the resources of the college in business and industry outreach.

“Our students are excited to see this new opportunity coming,” said Dean of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Dr. Richard Ammon. “The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, is the on-going automation of manufacturing using smart technology. Our students will play an important role in this new era of manufacturing with breakthroughs in emerging technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, automated vehicles and artificial intelligence. Our ATC will build the foundation and infrastructure needed to propel the Lake County workforce ecosystem into the future.”

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik remarked, "Gurnee is pleased and proud to be the host community for CLC's new, state of the art Advanced Technology Center. Advanced manufacturing in Lake County is not only an economic driver for the region, but it also offers a rewarding career pathway for many of our students. By offering skills development that meets the needs of Lake County employers, the ATC becomes a critical piece of the economic development ecosystem."

Aligning with the college’s sustainability goals, the ATC will leverage infrastructure already established by purchasing the former Lowe’s building located at 7735 Grand Avenue. Purchasing an existing building gives the college the added ability to use resources to renovate and improve the space for a speed-to-launch strategy. Selected for its proximity to a CLC campus, accessible parking and access to public transportation, this Gurnee location is convenient to industry partners. The college will start by offering programs in welding and CNC at the new ATC, taking the college’s current programs to a higher level beyond what is currently possible then expanding programming in a phased approach.

About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation. Learn more at or call (847) 543-2000.