Metro-East News

In his first trip as governor, Pritzker goes to SWIC to sign executive order

Gov. J.B. Pritzker showed he is remembering downstate by making a visit to Southern Illinois his first trip outside Springfield as governor.

Pritzker, of Chicago, signed an executive order on Wednesday at Southwestern Illinois College to help strengthen workforce training in the state.

“We’re going to make sure we get the most bang out of our buck with our workforce development dollars so that every part of our state is fully embracing innovative strategies that lead to good jobs for our residents,” Pritzker said.

The order calls for a report to identify targeted growth industries, review of how effective and efficient state and federal investment is in growing industries, and make recommendations on improving alignment of workforce resources in disenfranchised communities. The report has to be completed in 90 days by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

He said the executive order will help focus investment on industries that are on the rise such as information technology, green technology, or innovations in agriculture.

“It really helps us look at where we’re spending our money today, are those industries that are actually growing, and are there areas that we should be investing in workforce training and development that are growing faster with more opportunity,” said Erin Guthrie, Pritzker’s nominee to be director of the DCEO. “In the most plain English, are the areas people are training and getting skills are going to be the areas where they can get a job?”

The governor was joined state Sens. Christopher Belt, D-Cahokia, Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, Rachelle Aud Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, and state Reps. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, and Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, St. Clair County’s Workforce Development Group Coordinator Rick Stubblefield, Southwestern Illinois College President Nick Mance and SWIC student Sonny Wilson.

The visit comes on his second full day as governor after being sworn-in on Monday. After the election, and during his inaugural he reiterated a campaign promise of remembering and visiting downstate Illinois.

In November’s election, Pritzker received more than 53 percent of the vote in St. Clair County.

“The governor is here today to make a strong statement about his commitment to the whole state of Illinois,” Mance said. “Gov. Pritzker is making southern Illinois, and our economy here a top priority in his administration.”

Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referenda.