Photo at Clarion-Limestone High School for student-run manufacturing enterprise press conference - Bob Zaruta, NIWRC President/CEO, Dr. Jeff Fuller, Deputy Secretary of PA Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Gwen Ross, Director of Workforce Development Initiatives, DCED, with welding students.
(Left) Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC; (Middle) Gwen Ross, Director of Workforce Development Initiatives, DCED and Dr. Jeff Fuller, Deputy Secretary of PA Office of Elementary and Secondary Education; along with two Clarion-Limestone High School welding students.

Strattanville, PA – Emphasizing the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to increasing workforce development and manufacturing training programs across Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Acting Secretary Rick Siger announced $200,000 in new funding to support a student-run manufacturing program at Clarion-Limestone High School.

The Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career (MTTC) grant will support ‘Lion Manufacturing’, a program that will give qualifying students the opportunity to participate in a manufacturing enterprise that will make actual parts, deliver services and be an active member of the supply chain for local manufacturers. Over the course of an academic school year, students will learn about and perform different job functions in manufacturing, develop essential skills, utilize advanced manufacturing technologies and establish relationships with area businesses.

“Investing in programs like Lion Manufacturing is essential to building a strong economic future for Pennsylvania,” said Acting Secretary Siger. “Giving students these opportunities to get hands-on experience in the manufacturing industry provides them with career pathway options that can lead to lifelong, rewarding careers. Skills-building programs benefit the students, the businesses that will hire them, and our Commonwealth.”

“It is important to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce, and Training-to-Career grants like the one awarded here today make these experiences accessible to students across the Commonwealth,” said PDE Acting Secretary Dr. Khalid Mumin. “Connecting learners with employers builds skills and confidence, and creates pathways to fulfilling, family-sustaining future careers.”

An event to announce the grant award and the program was held at the school on March 30, 2023, and special guests from Harrisburg included Dr. Jeff Fuller, Deputy Secretary, PA Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Gwen Ross, Director of Workforce Development Initiatives, PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). “Programs like Lion Manufacturing are invaluable for setting students up today for success tomorrow. They enable students to make new connections, learn new skills, and become more confident and competent in their chosen field,” said Dr. Fuller. Ross said, “The students going through this program will be learning valuable hands on skills that will help Pa’s manufacturing industry, especially the companies in their own backyard. We look forward to seeing the great work that Lion Manufacturing will do for the manufacturing businesses in the region.”

“The Shapiro Administration is directly providing our students with an amazing opportunity to learn and grow through this grant,” said Brian Weible, Superintendent at Clarion-Limestone Area School District. “This opportunity shows that Pennsylvania, under the leadership of our elected and appointed officials, values and invests in our students and our schools. This grant benefits all students, and it will greatly enhance the programming we are offering here at our high school.”

“Essential for Lion Manufacturing is the collaborative partnership among the Clarion-Limestone Area School District, regional manufacturers, and the NWIRC,” said Bob Zaruta, President, Northwest Industrial Resource Center. “Our mission is to respond to the needs of manufacturers in the region to help their businesses grow, and this program responds to their need for building a future talent stream and also ease capacity challenges. It’s exciting to be here to launch another student-run manufacturing enterprise, now the fifth that NWIRC has helped launch in the northern PA region.”

PA Representative Donna Oberlander, who is a Manufacturing Caucus Chair, said that like no other time is she hearing that the need for workforce is so great, and every place you go they are looking for that next employee and the next generation. “Congratulations to the students, teachers, administration and school board – because this really is about a mindset, and it’s great you are seeing the value of manufacturing, this is what built our nation,” Representative Oberlander said. Senator Hutchinson also noted his congratulations for the vision. He is familiar with the program because of his connection with a similar program at the Warren County Career Center. “This program allows students a great opportunity to spread their wings to learn what the work-world is all about and follow their inspiration,” he said.

Manufacturing companies were also on hand for the event, including Forest Scientific Corporation, one of the first customers for Lion Manufacturing.