DOWD: LIFT Innovation Center will provide hands-on educational opportunities | Local


The Mattoon Arts Council has a new artist exhibition area in the north entrance hall of Cross County Mall.

LIFT, which stands for Leaders Innovating for Tomorrow, is the new Career Innovation Center located in the former Consolidated Communications headquarters in downtown Mattoon.

Community members, 135 in all, including students, parents, business leaders, teachers, administrators, university professors and civic leaders all contributed to the overall vision of LIFT.

Each of the six floors will host a variety of hands-on educational opportunities for students from multiple school districts to learn professional skills. The basement will house a communications lab with a broadcast room and spaces to develop podcasts and other resources. Available courses will include radio production, broadcast technology, digital sound design, cinematography and video production.

The first floor will include a fully operational daycare, visitor center and museum. Students will work with childcare professionals and care for infants from newborns up to 36 months. They will have the opportunity to undergo in-depth training on child development and care.

The second floor will be dedicated to information technologies thanks to a partnership with CISCO Systems. Students will be able to work with large computer systems, including servers and other technologies that they will encounter and work on at their sites. Courses include computer networks, web page design, media development, computer maintenance, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

Johnson Controls Inc. has partnered with the school to develop the third floor where students can learn HVAC and Green Energy technology. Equipment and materials will be readily available to students to learn the implementation and development of products and services.

The fourth floor will be devoted to the manufacturing and construction trades. Students will have the opportunity to begin working in electrical trades, construction trades, drawing, machining, and the integration of computer technology into design and manufacture.

The fifth floor will be a leadership institute where students will learn leadership and the skills needed to be successful in the business world. Courses offered will include Human Resource Management, Social Media Marketing, Corporate Communication, Business Ethics, and Business Management, among other courses.

The sixth floor will focus on the culinary arts and will have a fully functional restaurant that will be available to members of the community. Students will be responsible for all aspects of restaurant management, from ordering to serving.

The Mattoon School District is very interested in partnering with local businesses for potential internships as students complete the programs. With several school districts sending students to our community, this is a golden opportunity for our local businesses, across all industries, to build their employee base with trained, volunteer, young and talented individuals.

The school district would like to offer additional information or answer any questions you have. For more information on global programming, the advisory role, or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Christy Hild at [email protected] For any questions about internships, please contact Kris Maleske at [email protected]

This program is truly unique to Illinois and here in our community. As members of the community, it is imperative that we support this program.

Ed Dowd is the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.

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