Galesburg business poises to become virtual factory of the future

GALESBURG, Illinois - Jupiter Machine Tool is creating dozens of new jobs for the next generation of manufacturing here.

Jonah Struck, 20, is the newest hire.  The Davenport man started on Tuesday, September 4.  Now, the Scott Community College student is on the cutting edge of digital manufacturing.

"It's just an amazing field to be in," he said, on Thursday, September 6. "It's always progressing.  There are always new things to learn. It's never a dull day."

As officials welcome the new headquarters, Jupiter plans to add some 50 jobs over the next three years.  Many of them will pay from $40-80,000 per year.

Company officials acknowledge that the days of massive factories with thousands of workers are likely gone for good.  But a nimble new approach could last for decades.

"It's a lot more high tech, lower head counts, but they're making more high-value goods," said Jupiter's VP of International Operations Andrew Heath.

Jupiter is partnering with area high schools to create a talent pipeline.  It's important for developing the skill set needed to fill these jobs.

All of this fascinates United High's Bobby Hennenfent, 15, who participated in a virtual reality demonstration.

"When you think about what this can do for you, how it can impact you in the future, it's good just to know that stuff from the beginning," he said.

The company also showcased machines it uses to make custom parts for high profile clients.  And with advanced manufacturing plus augmented reality, it helps clients worldwide.

"You can compete here in Galesburg, Knox County, and Western Illinois with no problem at all provided you have the appropriate technical foundations," said Heath.

For Jonah Struck, a chance to take off from the ground floor.

"You can really get into it without having to go to a four-year school," he concluded.

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