Michigan City High School, Economic Development Corporation Michigan City (EDCMC), and local businesses are partnering up for a project set to prepare students in the area for careers in the thriving compressor industry. Dubbed Air Compressor Academy, the program’s goal is to create a hiring pipeline for an industry that houses over 2,000 jobs in La Porte County.

Air and gas compressor manufacturing is a major component of the Michigan City and La Porte areas. Clarence Hulse, Executive Director for the EDCMC, highlighted the inspiration and hopes for the program.

“The air compressor study was the motivation behind the creation of the Air Compressor Academy. While PNW, through Dr. Derrick Bjonback, was researching and compiling the data, we realized how large and viable this industry was and saw the need to create a workforce pipeline for these vibrant, growing companies,” Hulse explained. “Michigan City Area Schools was the perfect vehicle, as they have been receptive to new ideas and saw an immediate fit at their high school. The EDCMC is excited about this business-education partnership with the local manufacturers and MCHS. We hope to expand to more companies and also other educational providers like Ivy Tech Michigan City and area universities.”

As the program moves through planning stages, many local businesses have come on board to help out. Whether providing equipment, instruction, classroom time, or internships, the community has pulled together to create a fantastic opportunity for students. Local businesses involved include Sullair, Dekker Vacuum Technologies, Inc., LEFCO CPS Inc., Sullivan-Palatek Inc., Vanair Manufacturing, and Boss Industries, LLC. Hulse is hopeful that more companies will get involved as the project moves through the planning stages with the help of Jan Radford, former Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Michigan City Area Schools.

“The Air Compressor Academy will provide a unique opportunity for growth and collaboration between Michigan City High School, the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City, and the air compressor/ vacuum industries of La Porte County,” Radford said. “It is exciting to be on the planning edge of this program’s development.”

Preparing students and filling a skills gap is a major positive for the area. As school curriculum requirements change and the La Porte County workforce changes, it’s important to be sure the future generations are prepared to take on the careers most needed for the area.

“This is an opportunity for the school system to help fill a significant workforce need in the compressor and vacuum industry here in La Porte County and provide students with entry level skills to be career-ready upon graduation from high school,” said Barbara Eason-Watkins, Superintendent of the Michigan City Area Schools. “This partnership definitely creates a win for our students.”

As the community rallies together to create a positive path for the future, this partnership is certain to benefit students, businesses, and the La Porte County area as a whole.

Written by:
Jennifer Bissonnette
October 24, 2018


To learn more about the EDCMC, visit their website here!