Inside INdiana Business

Conexus, Goodwill launch training program

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Conexus Indiana and Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana are teaming up to launch a program to provide paid training in advanced manufacturing and logistics. 

Make & Move Up will implement the training through the Catapult Indiana program from Conexus for 50 residents on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative says the effort aligns with Bloomington-based Cook Medical’s manufacturing facility currently under construction in Indy that will create 100 jobs.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Conexus Chief Executive Officer Fred Cartwright said the program aims to fill a need in a neighborhood that has seen high levels of unemployment.

“The program is a meaningful way to help the local community to provide some employment and provide career opportunities,” said Cartwright. “And in partnership with Goodwill Commercial Services and others, it’s a great step forward to create a network of jobs here in central Indiana.”

The Cook Medical facility at East 38th Street and Sheridan Street will manufacture medical devices such as drainage catheters and needles for Cook, though the workers will be employed by Goodwill Commercial Services. Plans for the facility were announced last November, and the project is a collaboration among Cook, Goodwill, and the United Northeast Community Development Corp., among others.

Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana CEO Kent Kramer says there is a lack of investment in some communities throughout the state and the area where the Cook facility is being built is a prime example.

“It’s been several years since new jobs, especially new jobs like this, manufacturing jobs, have been brought to that area,” said Kramer. “Our hope is that others see this work being done, see the collaborative nature of this work between Cook and Conexus and Goodwill and CICF and Chase. There’s a lot of organizations and companies behind this that want to see this be a success and our hope is that other organizations see it and see the success that it will have and replicate this model.”

Kramer says Make & Move Up will also help other companies in the advanced manufacturing and logistics sector fill jobs, including Goodwill Commercial Services, which has contract manufacturing and logistics operations in Indy and Bloomington.

Catapult Indiana is a 160-hour, entry-level workforce training program that has been implemented in other regions throughout the state. Cartwright says about 90% of students who completed the program have found employment and he hopes to continue that success in central Indiana.

Cartwright says Make & Move Up will help move the needle for manufacturing and logistics companies that are constantly looking for qualified talent.

“We hear it from companies virtually every day. They need people and the situation I think we see in the state, with retirements pending, the baby boomers planning to retire and those already over the age of 65 still working will retire soon, creates an even bigger gap for manufacturers,” said Cartwright. “We focus on what do we need to do to develop new programs, new pathways for people into these advanced manufacturing and logistics jobs, as well as what can we do to move the state forward with manufacturing companies in terms of adoption of new technology, because that’s something that we lag behind here as well.”

Conexus says training for Make & Move Up will begin later this year ahead of the opening of the Cook Medical facility, which is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2022.

Cartwright says he hopes the collaborative nature of a program like Make & Move Up will serve as model that can help other underserved neighborhoods around Indiana.

“There’s no one organization that can really move the needle in a big way on the challenges that we have here in central Indiana and throughout the state. I think what’s going to be key going forward, as it has been in the past, is creating those partnerships and those alignments where it makes sense to really have a huge difference and this is a great example of doing that. It just needs to be replicated and scaled up throughout the state.”

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