St. Ambrose University

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St. Ambrose University's Professional Development Center has merged with the nonprofit Midwest Manufacturing Business Coalition. 

In December, the Professional Development Center, or PDC, absorbed the coalition, or MMBC, to fill a local need for manufacturing business training, officials announced Tuesday. After the formal announcement, the PDC held a panel discussion with leading area manufacturers. 

"We are thrilled to have SAU take on the coalition's efforts," Andrea Olson, one of the MMBC founders, said in a news release. "The amazing talent and resources they bring to the table will only further the advancement of our vision to help Quad-Cities manufacturers grow and compete more effectively in today's business climate."

The Midwest Manufacturing Business Coalition, founded in 2016, is focused on providing support to small and mid-sized manufacturers across the Midwest. Olson said MMBC has provided training in leadership, strategy, business development, marketing and more.

“There are tons of organizations out there focused on manufacturing, but most of these groups focus on process or technology and the future of manufacturing,” Olson said. “So we’re filling that void in the middle. Here’s how you can run your business more efficiently today, how you can compete more efficiently today and sell better today to get to the point where you’re ready for these future ideas.”

The nonprofit's reach spans North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. 

In 2017, MMBC held its first conference for manufacturers across the Midwest. Cheryl Riley-Hayles, director of the PDC, said St. Ambrose was an exhibitor at the conference. After realizing the nonprofits shared similar values, she said the PDC continued the partnership, eventually hosting roundtable discussions for the group.  

“From the beginning, we had this great relationship that was mutually beneficial and collaborative,” Riley-Hayles said. “Andrea came to me, and we talked about the possibility of St. Ambrose taking over and basically purchasing the assets of the coalition. There was a lot of synergy and our missions are very similar, so it made sense for St. Ambrose.”

For decades, St. Ambrose University's PDC has provided expert training and coaching to the region's manufacturing and business community.

Riley-Hayles expects the new partnership to help grow the area's manufacturing base by providing educational opportunities focused on project management, leadership, supervisory skills and mentoring. She said the merger also should lead to more customized training, business networking and the sharing of best practices across employers.

“It really provides us access,” she said. “We’ll have access to manufacturers that are active in the coalition to do a lot of collaboration on what they need to prepare for the future. We’ll be able to better meet their needs so they have opportunities to grow and do better business. And obviously, the resources of the university will help provide that training.”

The PDC, she said, will continue to host the coalition’s networking roundtables, as well as its annual manufacturing conference. The conference is aimed at providing workshops, data and networking opportunities to C-level executives and VP-level department leaders within a 300-mile radius of the Quad-Cities.

She expects the conference to be held late this year or in early 2020.

Riley-Hayles said the PDC also offers a leadership certificate program, leadership workshops, a six-month cohort-based program, executive coaching and a variety of courses. It also provides contracted work for businesses in the Quad-Cities, including the Rock Island Arsenal.

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