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Creators Wanted Makes a Splash in West Columbia

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Introductions to manufacturers, an immersive-experience walkthrough and panel discussions with local leaders—the West Columbia, South Carolina, tour stop of the Creators Wanted Live mobile experience had all that and more.

Last week’s series of events marked the second stop on the tour’s six-city cross-country jaunt designed by the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, to inspire and educate future manufacturers. The events brought out public figures, including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, as well as business leaders, including Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation President, CEO and Owner Lou Kennedy, Trane Technologies Plant Manager Gregg Krick and South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan.

Among the activities in the three-day West Columbia stop were:

  • Creators’ “Office Hours,” where students had a chance to meet team members at Trane Technologies, Honda and Nephron Pharmaceuticals and learn more about working at these companies and in modern manufacturing;
  • Creators Conversation, in person and broadcast live on Facebook, where students and teachers from West Columbia and around the country gained insights into how to pursue a manufacturing career; and
  • Tours of the mobile experience for students from local schools, including Longleaf Middle School, Lexington 2 Innovation Center, Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center, Lake Marion High School and Technology Center and New Hope Leadership Academy. Afterward, representatives from Nephron, Trane Technologies and Honda talked to students about the opportunities available in manufacturing, and PTC demonstrated the possibility of augmented reality.

See the stop: Photos and videos from the West Columbia events show how much energy was in the air. Below, attendees at the premier event pose in front of the mobile experience:

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons wraps up the kickoff event with some inspiring personal stories.

High-school students show their excitement after touring the mobile experience.

Families get to the final room of the mobile experience together and are stopped in their tracks by the PTC augmented reality technology, which helps students and parents understand the career paths in manufacturing.

Students hold up cards that show how long it took them to complete the challenges in the Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience. They’re pretty speedy—a great sign for their future careers!

And last, students talk about the impact the tour is making, showing that perceptions are changing thanks to Creators Wanted.

The reach: These photos only capture a fraction of the excitement and activity surrounding the tour. All in all, approximately 500 students participated in the West Columbia Creators Wanted Tour Live events last week. More than 16,000 students, parents and others interested in manufacturing careers in South Carolina signed up to follow the Creators Wanted campaign online, and the broadcasted Creators Conversation reached more than 1,000 people on the opening day of the tour stop.

Telling tweets: Political and business leaders also championed the tour on social media.

Gov. McMaster applauded Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Creators Wanted for showing jobseekers the many opportunities available in manufacturing:

Lt. Gov. Evette posted about her visit to Creators Wanted and shared some photos …

… while Nephron Pharmaceuticals posted some photos of Secretary Lightsey in the mobile experience and thanked him for visiting.

And NAM Vice President of Brand Strategy—and Chief Strategist for the tour—Chrys Kefalas caught some serious excitement about manufacturing:

“What we witnessed on the ground was exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” said Kefalas. “Student after student kept saying they learned a lot and—and this is big—want to go work for Nephron Pharmaceuticals and Honda and other modern manufacturers like Trane Technologies. A high school athlete told me ‘this is the place’ when talking about Nephron. Teachers said to us ‘lights went on.’”

 Media responds: News outlets far and wide reported on the West Columbia tour stop and the Creators Wanted project in general.

The final say: The Creators Wanted Tour Live is as timely as it is educational, MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee said last week. With more than 900,000 jobs open in manufacturing, the tour “is part of a larger campaign that couldn’t come at a more important time for manufacturing and this country.”

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