The National Association of Manufacturers, together with The Manufacturing Institute, launched the Creators Wanted Tour campaign. This unprecedented national effort launched Wednesday, October 6th, hoping to overhaul the significant workforce challenges in manufacturing; recruit fresh talent now, and inspire the next generation of creators for tomorrow.

In a single parking lot of Columbus State Community College, the introductory ceremony featured VIP Tours and premiere address from different leaders:

  • Carolyn Lee – Executive Director, Manufacturing Institute
  • Ohio Lt. Governor, John Husted
  • Jeff Spain – Director, Manufacturing Extension Partner (MEP) at Columbus State
  • Rick Schostek – Executive Vice President, American Honda Motor Company 
  • Ryan Augsburger – President, Ohio Association of Manufacturers (OMA)
  • Jay Timmons – President & CEO, National Associate of Manufacturers (NAM) 

The “Making the Future” theme blatantly illustrates the demand for Americans to establish careers in modern manufacturing. To advance that objective, the Creators Wanted mobile operation is a one-of-a-kind, on-the-ground movement to attract the next generation workforce.

“This is part of a larger campaign that couldn’t come at a more important time for manufacturing and for this country,” explained Carolyn Lee.

One-by-one the speakers echoed the skills gap in the U.S., record career opportunities and presented the magnificent growth of modern manufacturing for students, including the ones in attendance from Millennium Community School, urging them to make their mark in the manufacturing industry. Ohio Lt. Governor, John Husted’s started with a synopsis of essential goods, and commending the current manufacturing workforce that serves as the maker’s behind tangible things, from shoes and apparel to automotive parts. 

“We’re all in this together, everybody does their part and manufacturing is gonna be here for a very long time… Forever. As long as we need things, we’re gonna need somebody to make it,” explained Husted. 

The Lt. Govenor looked at Honda as an example industry sector, informing students that more than 6-thousand parts make up a single vehicle. This transformation of the mechanical, physical, or chemical components are necessary for anything to be made. Ohio wants to continue offering state programs that grow new skills for residents and helps employers build a stronger workforce.

Next at the podium, Jeff Spain, Director of the MEP at Columbus State, explained the hurdles academic institutions face and complimenting NAM’s relentless initiatives to reach parents and educators. Spain encouraged students to explore the diverse career opportunities. 

“Initiatives like Creators Wanted are critical in changing the hearts and minds of our students, our parents and our emerging workers about what it means to be a modern day manufacturing worker,” said Spain. 

The Central Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, blended with the expertise from Columbus State Community College, is a dynamic force for the 12-counties surrounding Columbus. Campus representatives were on site, informing attendees of academic and work-study pathway offerings that bolster the manufacturing sector. 

“Columbus State has a history of partnering with the manufacturing industry to develop and teach our next generation’s workforce,” said Spain. “Since 2013, Columbus State has partnered with companies to offer the modern manufacturing work-study program. It is a national best practice, earn and learn program, to help fill the gaps of electromechanical technicians.”

Following those statements, American Honda Motor Company Executive Vice President, Rick Schostek, spoke to the plans of electrifying the automotive industry, and motivate individuals to enter the manufacturing workforce of the 21st century. 

“We’ve encountered a number of misperceptions about what really happens in the manufacturing environment. Some think it’s a mundane or boring kind of world. Others think it’s mostly an automated environment.” said Schostek. “But at Honda, it’s where advanced technology meets hands on craftsmanship.” 

Honda is one of many sponsors of Creators Wanted, but is the only sponsor to craft a room for the mobile bus experience. Through this initiative, Honda is capitalizing on the opportunity to bring real-world manufacturing experiences throughout the country. Honda’s sponsorship efforts in this campaign expresses a powerful message on opportunities improving quality of life through lucrative wages, benefits and alternative means.

“We’re proud to work with the NAM to make it possible for every manufacturer in America to have a strong future and for young people [to] make that a reality,” said Schostek. 

As the largest sector contributing to 17% of Ohio’s economy, OMA President, Ryan Augsburger, spoke about where Ohio falls in the competitive landscape for manufacturing output across the nation.  

“Ohio is a world leader in manufacturing. Ohio ranks third nationally [for] manufacturing output. That’s $112 billion a year of products,” said Augsburger. “We need to grow the funnel into the employment pipeline to open more young minds to the endless possibilities presented by manufacturing careers.”

The Creators Wanted Mobile Experience, founded by the NAM, is on the move to rapidly shift and debunk distorted opinions of manufacturing careers. NAM President & CEO, Jay Timmons, conveyed its purpose to recruit and excite the next generation. He shared his own stories of his childhood in Chillicothe, his grandfather’s 40-year career in manufacturing and his decision to drop out of Ohio State University. 

“I didn’t graduate, I got bored… I wanted to just get out and do stuff,” said Timmons. “And I think that’s really the message here today. Follow your passion.”

His pride was emanating when speaking to Ohio’s role as the birthplace of the NAM. The national advocacy group is in Washington, D.C. today, but its humble beginnings took flight in Cincinnati 125 years ago. Thomas P. Egan, late President of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and head of the J.A. Fay and Egan Co., is known as the founder of NAM. (January 1895.) Under Egan’s leadership, 583 manufacturers came to Cincinnati and began working together to support each other. 

The occasion held on Wednesday radiated similar tones to birth of the NAM. At its inception, Egan urged the manufacturers of the time to organize and work together to improve business conditions nationally. Now, we face even greater stakes in the workforce; closing the skills gap. 

“Manufacturers need many, many more creators. It’s a crisis 900,000 open jobs in America in manufacturing alone. Right here in Ohio, 115,000 open jobs in manufacturing,” said Timmons. “At your age, you get to you get to help us not only improve the quality of life, you get to literally help us save our country. You’re more important than any other generation that we’ve seen in the history of this country, because you are going to take us to that next level.”

The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged some of the workforce challenges already arising in the manufacturing industry. Over the past year, businesses have experienced an even greater demand for flexibility, agility and speed in operations to help their communities, and their country. By stepping away from the stage, Timmons advocated for manufacturers. He joined the cluster of masked young people seated in the front and challenged them to act, invent and innovate to make the world a better place. 

“Manufacturing changes lives for the better, you will change lives for the better.”

AMIP Talent Pipeline Co-Lead, Will Healy III, shared his experience on LinkedIn

The tour will make multiple stops, where communities can explore the immersive mobile experience which features an Escape Room-like challenge. Future stops include West Columbia, South Carolina; Pella, Iowa; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dallas, Texas. Communities will get a true understanding of what manufacturing is all about and generate excitement for young people about creating their own future.

Community programming stops are also coming to Freeport, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Guthrie, Kentucky; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Carson City, Nevada. And a new suite of digital and online experiences and tools will bring the campaign to every state.

Where the mobile experience can’t be physically, the NAM and Manufacturing Institute has developed a digital experience for anyone across the country to access.

The tour will depart from Columbus on Friday, October 8th.


AMIP Leaders Will Healy III and Lacy Wise finish mobile experience in record time with Millenium Community Students.