STEM SIBA Career Expo    Workforce has become the key to economic development in the 21st Century. And nothing is more important than a highly skilled, technical workforce. As you will read in the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois story in this section, site selectors are searching for that workforce and let it be known that, if we build it, they will come. And we are building it.
    The purpose of this section is to keep the business leaders of Southwestern Illinois informed on what is being done to promote and nurture STEM education right here in our back yard.
    As you read this section, you’ll see, for example, that Ameren Illinois is developing relationships with community colleges and vocational/technical programs, partnering with union leaders to attract good candidates into the apprenticeship programs, recruiting and hiring military veterans, and reaching into the high schools to cultivate the pipeline of STEM-ready workers of the future.
    You’ll also learn that McKendree University boasts the oldest Sigma Zeta National Honor Society the purpose of which is to foster the attainment of knowledge in the natural and computer sciences and mathematics.
    You’ll discover that the Madison County Regional Office of Education sponsors an annual STEM camp every summer for three through sixth graders with the help of companies like Phillips 66 and the Simmons Law Firm. The goal — to get students excited about how science, technology, engineering and mathematics come together to make things work. In fact, you might want to get your company involved in this year’s camp to be held this June in Troy.
    You’ll learn about the collaboration between the Manny Jackson Center, the Madison County ROE, SIUE, LCCC and the Madison County Housing Authority to open the Alma Irene Aitch STEM Center and the many other things that SIUE is doing to support STEM education in K-12 and reach out to students, parents and teachers across Southwestern Illinois.
    And you’ll find that the Southern Illinois Builders Association and the skilled trades are working together to develop the craftsmen — and women — of tomorrow.
    I hope you enjoy this section and decide to get involved in developing our workforce of tomorrow. If we build it, they will come.

– ALAN J. ORTBALS