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March 20, 2014

Transformation taking place for workers in Jeffersonville

Transformation Network to train employees for manufacturing jobs

JEFFERSONVILLE — As small robotic arms maneuvered at demonstration stations in the background, Transformation Network, a workforce development company, celebrated its grand opening Wednesday at its Jeffersonville training facility.

The nonprofit organization trains employees and helps place them in manufacturing positions — a career that is common in the area. The Jeffersonville location is the first in Indiana and fourth in the country.

“We’ve had a lot of ribbon-cuttings where we have brought industry in, and having the training facility here for the employees that are going to fill those jobs is vitally important for us,” said Mayor Mike Moore, who spoke at the ceremony along with State Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Ind., and Clark County Commissioner Jack Coffman.

Ken Jewett, vice president of sales and manufacturing for Transformation Network, said Southern Indiana was a good fit for the company.

“There is so much manufacturing going on here. [Jeffersonville is] very proactive in attracting more manufacturing,” Jewett said. “That’s where we want to go, is where the business is.”

In the last year, Jeffersonville has gained Autoneum, American Fuji Seal and Standard Register Co., all manufacturers that will bring in a total of 885 jobs to the community.

Jewett said between Jeffersonville and Louisville, there are thousands of manufacturing jobs, and the organization plans on extending its services to manufacturers in Louisville, New Albany, Sellersburg and other surrounding cities and towns.

The idea to bring Transformation Network to Southern Indiana came through communication between Jewett and Andre Boom, director of manufacturing at Snyder’s-Lance Inc. in Jeffersonville.

Boom said more than a year ago, he sent some of Snyder’s-Lance’s employees from the Ashland, Ohio, plant to the Transformation Network training facility in the same city.

“We got feedback from our team members saying, ‘Wow, you know what — it makes a difference. What you learn is hands-on there, it’s practical, we can use it at the job,’’ Boom said. “So they were all very, very impressed.”

From there, Boom said a Transformation Network location in Jeffersonville would be of great use.

Jewett said the workforce support company is more than just a staffing service or a “revolving door,” as temp agencies can be.

“We want to attack the soft skills, we want to attack the technical skills, we want to attack the leadership, we want to help improve the culture of the companies,” he said.

Transformation Network can recruit and train those new to the manufacturing world as well as existing employees in the workforce for continuing education in topics such as automation, electrics, pneumatics and hydraulics.

He said the nonprofit also cam help manufacturing employees climb the ladder within their company.

“If they’re already with a company, then we want to partner with that company to help them bring value to themselves, which then in turn brings value to the company,” Jewett said.

The three Ohio locations have worked with high school students who do not plan on going to college after school and are interested in working in manufacturing.

Rachel Province, communications and marketing executive for Transformation Network, said that manufacturing jobs are more vital to the economy than many may think; only 12 percent of jobs in the U.S. require a four-year college degree, she said.

“What I would like to do here is make manufacturing popular again,” Province said.

She said that there aren’t any jobs that the company recruits for that pay less than $9 an hour, and some positions can pay as high as six figures.

“There isn’t anything like this here, and so to be able to work with manufacturers and the schools and the students and to put it all under one roof, is just a feeder system for manufacturers,” she said. “And its a great opportunity for everyone here.”

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