Local business LMI Packaging continues to partner with Kenosha’s three local colleges to provide good paying jobs, real world work experience and tuition benefits for college students.
Carthage College students pose at LMI Packaging, where they have been working as part of a partnership program.
Since the company launched its college program in May of 2021, it has employed about 25 students: Four from Gateway Technical College, one student from UW-Parkside and the remainder from Carthage College.
Lydia Seigler is seen working in the ink department, mixing inks and performing quality checks.
“After reaching out to our local schools, President (John) Swallow of Carthage College responded almost immediately,” said JP Moran, CEO of LMI Packaging. “He was here at LMI within a week. The Carthage group has been phenomenal in helping launch this program.”
Participating students can take jobs in the ink room, as a press helper, or in die cutting operations.
Lydia Seigler, seen standing at right, splits her time at LMI Packaging between the ink department and finance department. “We hear that she i…
LMI, 8911 102nd St. in Pleasant Prairie, also works with students to help them explore other areas of the company or find jobs that align with their career plans, such as in finance or marketing.
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Higher hourly wage
Students participating in the LMI college program are paid an hourly wage that is significantly higher than what they would typically earn in a retail or hospitality setting, officials said. Also, an additional hourly wage, about $6 an hour, is set aside for the student’s tuition.
At the beginning of each semester, that tuition set-aside amount is paid directly towards the participating student’s tuition balance.
Lydia Siegler, a senior at Carthage College, has participated in LMI’s college program since it started. She works three days a week in the ink room and two days in the finance department.
Siegler, who is studying biology and business administration, said the experience “has opened me up to the manufacturing field as a whole,” including biotech manufacturing as a future career possibility.
“It has been great having the opportunity to expand beyond the passions I’ve already discovered,” she said, “and find new things that I’m good at and enjoy.”
LMI’s Moran said the students “bring such an upbeat energy to the company.”
“There is something about young people that brings out this desire to help, and to teach, in our employees,” Moran said. “A lot of our longstanding employees have done a phenomenal job in mentoring these young folks. It has brought up the level of fun and engagement on the floor.”
LMI puts the focus on exposing students to diversity, teamwork opportunities and cross-generational work environments that may not always be accessible in the classroom, Moran added.
Carthage’s Swallow said the students benefit “tremendously” from this partnership.
“For some students who previously weren’t working,” he said, “it has made a significant financial difference to them. Some students who were working in industries that pay less have also seen a significant increase in income since joining LMI.
“It has absolutely lessened the financial anxiety of our participating students. LMI is standing behind the students to work, but also to be educated.”
Carthage also supports students participating in the LMI Packaging college program by providing them with free housing throughout the summer.
“LMI has been the pioneer of this program,” Swallow said. “We’ve been talking with other manufacturers about hopefully developing similar programs with them in the future. We’re very excited here at Carthage to continue to replicate this wonderful relationship we have built with LMI Packaging.”
Marcia Schlagenhaft, the human resources Manager at LMI Packaging, said as a small company, “bringing in 15 employees who jump right in, are quick learners and bring such a life to the building has been priceless.”
LMI Packaging looks forward to continuing to grow their college program over the coming years, she said.
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“Thank you to the team at Carthage and their Aspire Center,” Schlagenhaft said. “They market our program on campus, they arrange everything, they manage the applications, they transfer the students here for orientation. They have been just phenomenal to work with.”