In 2009, Gary Skoog, then Director of Economic Development for Hoffman Estates, garnered a group of local business people in and around the areas of Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, and Elk Grove Village. His vision was to have local businesses and educators collaborate to encourage more students to seek opportunities and careers in the manufacturing business. A core group of manufacturing executives welcomed Gary’s initiative, and so the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, or GCAMP as it was nicknamed, was launched.
Growing out of Gary’s vision was the idea to have the I-90 Golden Corridor become a source of highly trained and skilled technicians, that would ensure the retention of existing manufacturing companies, and also become a magnet for new companies.
Although progress was slow in the beginning, Gary was resolute, and passionate in his endeavor to make his vision become a reality. So called “Movers & Shakers” were invited to presentations to get more companies of like mind to contribute and be a part of the effort. Having junior & senior High School students working as interns in a manufacturing company was unthinkable at the time. Student job fairs, open houses, parent nights, funding robotic programs, high mileage vehicles, and trips to IMTS all helped to slowly turned the tide.
On the education side there were also challenges. Gary and GCAMP collaborated continuously with the local school districts, even with junior High Schools encouraging more STEM related curriculum, and providing robots and other engineering tools for student use and experience.
Today, it is commonplace to see young high school students, male and female, all across the region, participate in robotic contests, receive summer internships, gaining valuable work experience, and fueling their desire to follow a career in manufacturing. Many go on to receive apprenticeships, and further education, all paid for by their employer.
Gary retired from GCAMP in 2017, and sadly passed away at his home in Elmhurst on June 19, 2023. We are sure he is very proud of what he started, and what his vision has become.
Gary’s passion for GCAMP’s success, and todays ongoing activities, is best represented in the final sentence of his obituary, which reads,
“In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program (GCAMP) 2000 S. Batavia Ave. Ste 110. Geneva, IL 60134”