MakerFest creates a new sense of pride in advanced manufacturing

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Manufacturing has a long history in Lima, Ohio and has been an anchor for Allen County’s economy since its founding in 1831. By 1886, Lima boasted numerous manufacturing industries, including paper products, woodwork, oil machinery and locomotive production.


As the world economy continues to evolve in the 21st century, the residents and employers of Allen County created MakerFest to create a new sense of pride in the advanced manufacturing and skills trade career opportunities presently available in the area.


Lima/Allen County, an employer-driven workforce developmental strategy, strategized MakerFest 2015 as an event to attract, develop and retain an employer-ready local workforce with the right skills to fill the needs of local employers. To meet that mission, the MakerFest 2015 had two event tracks. Track one engaged current Allen County high school students. The roughly 1,100 high school students spent a day last November listening to keynote speakers such as Keith Wandell, a former Lima resident and the CEO of Harley Davidson. The students also networked in the career fair and competed for the MakerCup.

Students representing their schools earned points by attending breakout sessions hosted by P&G, AcuMax Index, Spherion and other local employers, and collecting business cards after the sessions. Additionally, points were earned by competing in skills-based competitions such as brick laying, auto repair, graphic design, welding, carpentry, maneuvering a Bobcat, robotics and constructing buildings out of noodles and marshmallows.


The Lima-based Apollo Career Center beat 11 other schools to take home the “Maker Cup”, a one-of-a-kind sculpture commissioned by a local artist. The Apollo Career Center nearly doubled the points of the first runner-up and had a separate reception after the event to reward its students.


The second track, which took place the day after the skills competition, focused on Allen County’s adult job seekers. Community members attended workshops on how to leverage life experiences and utilize the OhioMeansJobs website to help pursue a career. They also participated in extreme interview makeovers with local human resource executives.


With 1,300 attendees, 60 local employers and more than $100,000 raised, MakerFest 2015 was a clear success, and planning for MakerFest 2016 is already in the works. Organizers said the 2015 event generated a great response and they are excited about connecting more people to career pathways in 2016.


To learn more about Link Lima/Allen County and MakerFest, visit



Doug Arthur,