(Sumter, SC)—TheLINK Economic Development Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Commerce hosted the 4th Manufacturers and Technology Expo for 8th-grade students in Sumter and Lee Counties, Wednesday, March 31st. The Expo, which has become an annual event allows students to be EXPO‘SED’ to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing. And although this years’ event was virtual due to the COVID Pandemic, it was well attended by 8th graders who are intrigued by modern manufacturing and the opportunities that are in this region. “I took away a new understanding of stem careers and the people behind the jobs” Commented one 8th grade attendee from Alice Drive Middle School, “The Manufacturing Expo was really fun for me and I enjoyed the interactive activities.”

In an effort to deepen the impact for a virtual event, students were provided kits by industry participants to follow along with simulated operations. Expo attendees learned pipe building, product development, and global logistics during the two-hour event.  “The importance of introducing students early and often to the advanced technology used in today’s manufacturing is critical to the success of our region”, commented Jay Schwedler, CEO of Sumter Economic Development and TheLINK Alliance, “We are positioning ourselves to respond to the demands of employers with our talent standing at-the-ready. Manufacturing offers good jobs, with good pay– we are dedicated to changing the mindset of not only the traditional manufacturing environment but also the thought of what is considered the pathway to success.”

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