Edge Factor to Inspire Students About Technical Education

When creativity and ability meet, success is just around the corner.

The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce will bring this message to area students thanks to a generous grant from CollaborACTION (a partnership of Heartland Foundation and Mosaic Life Care), sponsorships from local employers, support from the St. Joseph School District and participation from other public and private schools.

“Take ingenuity and inspiration and connect it in your head and your hands and extraordinary things start to happen. Companies get started, careers get launched, the economy gets stronger and, ultimately, the family is empowered. That’s the backbone to what makes this country great,” said Jeremy Bout.

Bout is the founder of Edge Factor, a company that teaches students and parents about local companies and opportunities, while building relationships between schools and businesses. As a man who started his career as a CNC programmer for a tool company, he will provide real world dialogue to 2,000 students from 10 St. Joseph and area schools in a live event Sept. 24. The grant and sponsorships also will fund a wealth of video, web and communication tools for schools to use.

“We want to inspire the next generation,” Bout said. “We want to reach into their minds and speak to them. We want to give them options and choices.”

What used to be considered “factory jobs” are much more than routine or monotonous tasks. Today’s skilled manufacturing jobs are intellectually challenging, and well compensated.

“What you perhaps envisioned the industry to be as a parent – dark, dirty, dangerous – not the case anymore,” Bout said.

Cities across the nation (St. Joseph included) work to reset the perception of manufacturing and success. The ‘American Dream’ is about stimulating work, loving families, a safe and comfortable home in a nice community.

“Success isn’t about your degree, success is not about what kind of car you drive or what family you come from… Success is about what you do with what you’re given,” Bout said.

Bringing the Edge Factor program to St. Joseph is one of many ways the Chamber and the St. Joseph School District are working to encourage students and parents to consider careers in skilled manufacturing. Manufacturing Day, My Success Event, Teacher Externships and the Apprenticeship Program are other endeavors that help students learn about potential careers in St. Joseph.

“As Baby Boomers retire, they are leaving a wealth of knowledge and a huge number of vacancies for companies, here and on the national level,” said R. Patt Lilly, President & CEO of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. “To continue to grow our economy, our companies need to be able to hire skilled talent.”

The CollaborACTION Grant, in the amount of $49,100, will help the Chamber and the St. Joseph School District implement a regional solution to the skills gap in workforce development.

If you or your company would like to be involved in this initiative, contact Kristie Arthur, Director of Workforce Development at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, at 816-232-4461 or arthur@saintjoseph.com.

About the Chamber: Since its inception in 1862 as the Board of Trade of St. Joseph, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for economic growth and development in Northwest Missouri. The Chamber strives to be the unified voice of business that advocates, promotes and inspires the St. Joseph area. The Chamber’s mission, supported by more than 1,200 members, is to create an environment that allows business to thrive and the community to prosper.

Photo by Heartland Foundation