Sen. Andy Manar

DECATUR – State Senator Andy Manar joined Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development Acting Director Erin Guthrie and representatives from the business and labor communities for a tour of Richland Community College’s workforce development facilities Wednesday.

“There’s incredible opportunity in the Decatur area and Richland is doing an excellent job of making sure there are qualified individuals ready to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “And after touring their facilities today, I’m certain that the EnRich program will be instrumental to the economic growth of the community going forward.”

For the past two fiscal years, Manar has helped secure $1.5 million grants through DCEO to help the college expand its workforce development programs.

The additional funds have helped Richland grow its EnRich program, which provides both technical and essential skills training to individuals to help grow the area’s workforce.

“Equipping Illinoisans with the skills they will need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity,” Guthrie said. “Richland Community College’s workforce development center is ahead of the curve in preparing students for jobs in emerging industries as well as industries that are relying more and more on technology to achieve their goals.”

Data from the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macoupin County currently shows that there are over 1,000 job openings that need to be filled in Decatur.

The workforce development programs at Richland are helping bridge that gap by fast-tracking training for workers to fill these positions.

“Employers in Decatur are struggling to find qualified workers, but, conversely, it hasn’t been easy for workers to gain the skills they need to fill these positions,” Manar said. “The EnRich program is finally changing that narrative and making a needed investment in Decatur’s workforce.”