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Illinois honors Galesburg manufacturing company

Ray Whitehead is the CEO of Pegasus Manufacturing, which will receive an award for Industry Innovation, Resiliency, and Inspiring the Next Generation. He says a key to the company's success is its focus on education and vocational training in the community.

"We feel very strongly that that's the future of our company and the region itself. And we found that when we actually give these young people a chance, you would find that probably about 70% of our workforce here at Pegasus, even though it's very technical, are probably less than 35 years of age."

Pegasus specializes in robotics and automation, building machine parts for automotive, aerospace, medical, and food processing industries. Its customers include companies like Apple, GMC Trucks, John Deere, and Caterpillar.

Whitehead says Pegasus moved from Silicon Valley to Galesburg in 2013, largely for the lower costs, proximity to customers, and what he calls "the best-kept secret of the Midwest."

"We have found that the people are really good people. They're willing to work--all you have to do is give them a chance, and then help then move up through the technical ranks, and show them a career path, and they'll go to work with you."

According to the Illinois Manufacturing Association, there are 800,000 manufacturing jobs open across the country, with more than 300,000 existing workers set to retire within the next decade.

The IMA is kicking off a statewide tour to connect manufacturers, businesses, and educators, introducing careers in manufacturing to students across the state.

Copyright 2021 WVIK, Quad Cities NPR. To see more, visit WVIK, Quad Cities NPR.