Michigan City Paper Box, Michigan City Area Schools announce partnership
Thanks to a new partnership between the Michigan Paper Box Company and Michigan City Area Schools, students in a Career Skills class at the A. K. Smith Career Center will gain hand-on experience in the box-assembly process used at the company’s two local plants.
Representatives of Michigan City Paper Box stopped by A. K. Smith on Friday, November 1, to demonstrate equipment and formalize the new partnership. The company installed a complete assembly work station in a classroom lab at A. K. Smith, including a conveyer belt, base machine, vacuum system, sorting table, and packing tools and supplies.
The Career Skills class serves Michigan City High School students with special needs. Teacher Danielle Seibt says six juniors and seniors in the class have already expressed interest in the program and will begin training on the equipment this month. She expects additional students to become engaged as the school year continues. They will work in three-person teams, at their own pace, to learn the processes, striving toward increasing efficiency levels.
Seibt was trained this past summer at Michigan City Paper Box, working for a week with veteran Paper Box employees on an assembly line much like the one now in place in her classroom. “The summer experience was invaluable,” she said. “It provided me with first-hand knowledge of this process that I will now pass on to my students.”
Field trips and guest speakers from Michigan City Paper Box are also aspects of the partnership. By the second semester, some students may qualify for internships at Michigan City Paper Box. Students trained through the program also could be employed in after-school or summer positions, and after graduation could be considered for full-time employment.
Michigan City Paper Box CEO and Owner Al Hoodwin established the partnership, which is coordinated by Nelva Walz, Vice President of Operations.
“As we move to the next phase of our expansion, we need to find quality employees,” said Walz. “We want to train them early and introduce them to all the aspects of our operation. We want to pave the way for their career growth at an early age. I can’t wait to see where this partnership leads us three, five, or ten years from now and how it will impact our workforce.”
“We are grateful to Michigan City Paper Box for their partnership and investment,” said MCAS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins. “We are committed to being responsive to the needs of local businesses, and we are hoping this can serve as a model for other companies that are seeking to build a future workforce.”
Michigan City Paper Box Company is the premier manufacturer of cotton-filled jewelry boxes in the world. The company has manufactured high-quality packaging products since 1904 and currently operates two plants in Michigan City, on Pine Street and Woodland Avenue. They produce packaging for worldwide accounts such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Gap, U-Line, JTV, Banana Republic, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Stitch Fix, and Alex & Ani, to name a few.