Manufacturing job program; arts district coming to Austin

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More Austin residents will be able to earn manufacturing job certifications as part of a collaborative initiative by the city of Chicago and Austin Coming Together, leaders of ACT said at its monthly meeting Thursday.

Currently, ACT has about 10 Austin residents participating in a 44-week manufacturing credential program at the Austin Polytechnical Academy at 231 N. Pine Ave.

The city of Chicago is working with ACT and the Center for Labor and Community Research to finalize a pilot program that would use the Austin community as a training ground so more residents can gain credentials for advanced manufacturing jobs.

“These are high-demand jobs and high skilled kind of work,” said Amara Enyia, executive director of ACT. “This is part of a national effort to close the skills gap and link education to the economy.”

Enyia said the city is interested in leveraging tax increment financing dollars to extend the pilot program in order to serve more residents.

“They are working with us to finalize the project expansion,” she said.

In addition, ACT’s businesses development committee is in the process of creating an arts district in Austin.

The committee is working with the Austin Chamber of Commerce to identify where that district would be located, Enyia said.

“We know that in Austin we have a rich artist’s community,” she said. “We need to be showcasing that. We need to be lifting up our local artists.”

The arts district will also help attract businesses to the area, she said.

Gale Lindo, director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said the project is still in the early planning stages, and a location for the district is to be determined.

Local-Motions Inc., a West Side performing arts organization at 6272 W. North Ave., uses art to help young people develop into engaged members of society.

The organization’s founder and executive director, D’Lana O’Neal, said she’s ready to work with ACT and other community partners to make an art district happen.

O’Neal said Chicago Public Schools removed art programs from many local schools, and that is a “huge error.”

“That’s what left kids behind,” she said.

For more information on how to get involved with the initiatives visit

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