From the Sterling Office:

Mike came to BEST, Inc. in the late winter of 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic that was ravaging our nation.  Mike had been laid off from his previous job and was looking not only for a job but a way to expand his professional skill set to continue learning and perfecting his craft.   He began his On-the-Job Training (OJT) with Carroll Industrial Molds in Milledgeville, Illinois on March 22, 2021 as a draftsman. 

He has completed very technical training while working at business.  He completed two very intricate and technical Computer Aided Design CAD and received certificates in Solidworks Drawing (CAD110) and Essentials; Parts and Assemblies (CAD 205).   This was very technical training and Mike persevered to master these skills all the while working fulltime. He engineers 2D and 3D computer models of machine parts.  The OJT assisted in provided the economic incentive and also paid for the additional training that was needed for Mike to be proficient in his job.    He is now an integral part of the Carroll Industrial Molds workforce.

Kyle Knutti, Vice President of Carroll Industrial Molds had this to say about Mike and the OJT:  “Since coming on board at CIM, Mike has added capacity to our design/engineering department which has allowed us to increase the amount of engineering work we are capable of.  He has allowed us the opportunity to help grow our business.  Mike came to us from our industry and also brings with him many years of industry knowledge and different perspectives that has allowed us to reevaluate our methods and processes.  The formal training that was part of the OJT has provided Mike with a lifelong skills upgrade.  Over the course of his engineering career, he had worked primarily with two-dimensional computer aided drafting software.  This OJT has allowed him to learn and become comfortable with three-dimensional CAD which will serve him and us for years to come.  His evaluation of this training and the process to complete it has also given CIM a repeatable road map to train the next generation of engineers within our business.”


Brittan came to our program as a single mother on food stamps. She quickly completed the Dental Assisting program at MTI and passed her state test. She then went on to successfully complete her internship hours at a local dentist office and was offered a full time position with that local dentist. 


In May of 2021, Jason contacted the BEST, Inc. office in Sterling to inquire about getting assistance with the cost of the CDL program at Sauk Valley Community College. He was unemployed at the time and had been working part-time at various dead-end jobs. He wanted to find a career that would offer stable employment and an hourly wage that would allow him to provide for his family.

Jason was found to be eligible for WIOA services as a low-income adult and was able to get help from BEST, Inc. with tuition assistance and mileage reimbursement. He completed his CDL training in July of 2021. Jason relocated his family to Hawaii after he was hired by US Aviation Services in late August with a starting wage of $20 per hour.


From the Princeton Office:

This Success Story has been provided by Haylee from Bureau County. Haylee is enrolled into the Step Ahead Program. She had started GED services December 2020 and completed September 2021.

“School was always overwhelming for me.  There were so many assignments for each class a day that I couldn’t keep up. I also couldn’t learn anything at my own pace so I often fell behind.  Getting into the program helped me a lot.  We focused on one subject at a time and went at my pace to ensure success. I never thought I’d enjoy anything like school until I entered this program.”

Haylee has also used our Adult Mentoring Services, this took place from January to March this year. Haylee completed a Job Shadow at Arukah Institute of Healing in Princeton. She is interested in Youth Counseling and was able to complete this experience with one of Arukah’s Youth Counselors. Haylee is now working towards furthering her Education in this field.


Individual Achievement Award Nominee

In March of 2021, Jose contacted the BEST, Inc. office in Sterling to inquire about getting assistance with job training to help him enter the workforce. He had recently been released from prison after serving nearly 25 years and wanted to train for a career that would offer stable employment and a self-sufficient income.

Knowing that his options for employment were limited due to his felony record, Jose was interested in enrolling in the CDL program through Midwest Safe Driver at Sauk Valley Community College. In June, Jose was determined eligible for WIOA services and was able to get help from BEST, Inc. with tuition assistance and mileage reimbursement. 

Jose did very well in class and successfully completed his training and licensing exam in August. Shortly thereafter, he was hired at Queen’s Trucking in Rochelle, IL where he began working with a pay rate of $18.50 per hour.

Jose has repeatedly expressed his gratitude to BEST, Inc., Midwest Safe Driver & Sauk Valley Community College, and Queen’s Trucking for their willingness to give him an opportunity to better his life in spite of his felony record. 


Business Leadership Award Nominee

John Spencer: Starved Rock Media, Oglesby, IL

Starved Rock Media, one of the primary sources for news and information in our area, and BEST, Inc., along with our local workforce board (NCI Works), have worked together and benefited from this partnership in a number of ways.  John Spencer, President and General Manager for Starved Rock Media, has been an active member of the local workforce board for over 10 years and for the last 3+ years has been the host of Getting to Work, a podcast of NCI Works.  John has played an active role in the selection of relevant topics and guests (which has included most workforce partners from IDES to multiple economic development entities), designs and directs the actual interview, and does the initial editing prior to turning the recording over to Workforce 180 for final editing and uploading to the workforce board’s website.  The podcast series, which focuses on helping job seekers get to work and companies hire and train, has had over 10,000 downloads and a lot of its success is due to John’s contributions to the effort.  John has donated his time and professional experience/expertise to making the podcast series the success it is today.  Through this partnership, and John’s desire to give back to the community, Starved Rock Media’s “listeners and online readers have come to recognize us as a trusted source for workforce news that affects them, their businesses, and their communities.”

At the beginning of the CoVid 19 pandemic, while also trying to keep Starved Rock Media’s 3 radio stations operating under state and CDC pandemic mitigation standards, John was able to take the time to record special edition episodes of Getting to Work to inform workforce customers that partners were still available to assist them with their needs.  Episode after episode was devoted to strategies and information concerning how businesses and job seekers could continue to be successful under the growing concern for personal safety and business disruption.  Starved Rock Media itself found it necessary to obtain a Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant from DCEO, that BEST, Inc. was administering, which enabled them to make essential technical upgrades to avoid layoffs by allowing some employees to work remotely.   

Whether it is recording a podcast, PSAs for workforce partners, or setting the example for embracing remote work, Starved Rock Media is a committed workforce innovation system partner. A partner with whom LWIA 4 is proud to be associated with, along with John Spencer its President and General Manager.



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