Established on November 4, 1902, as the Fox River Valley Manufacturer's Association, now known as the Valley Industrial Association was founded "for the benefit and advantage for all concerned" manufacturers in the Aurora area. Founded by 16 companies, four of which remain members today (Richards Wilcox, Aurora Metals, and Aurora Specialty Textiles, AMWELL /Division of McNish Corporation), the VIA currently serves more than 200 members, both Industrial Manufacturers and down line organizations that serve them, area educational institutions and municipalities. The VIA’s members are located primarily in the Northern Illinois counties of Kane, DuPage, Cook, Lake, McHenry, Kendall and DeKalb, but companies are not required to be within these areas for membership.
VIA Historic Milestones and Initiatives
Appointed the association’s first executive in 1920 (to date there have been only ten CEO/presidents of the association).
In 1964, started the process to bring a community college to the area. Waubonsee Community College held its first class in 1967.
Re-named the association - Valley Industrial Association, in 1965.
In 1966, initiated the process to secure Fermilab's location in the area.
Established VIA's general office location on Plum Street, Aurora from 1971 - 2015.
In 1985, successfully lobbied the Illinois General Assembly for creation of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora.
First woman association president selected by board of directors in 1988. VIA has continuously operated under female leadership.
In 2008, the membership elected the first female board chairman, Janice Christensen, JC Schultz / Flagsource.
In 2015, moved main office from Aurora to our current location in Geneva, IL (2000 S. Batavia Avenue, Suite 110).
Initiated The Entrepreneurial Operating System® in 2017 to refocus the operations of the VIA on the mission and serving the membership.
In 2021, acquired GCAMP, Greater Chicago Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, to continue to help build the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow.
Our Vision The Valley Industrial Association will be recognized by our manufacturing members as an integral resource contributing to their ongoing success. Our Mission The VIA will add value to its member companies by providing strategic resources and educational and networking opportunities that help our members meet or exceed their business objectives.
Current Structure and Initiatives Today’s VIA is served by a staff of five (president, vice president - workforce development, director of operations, membership director and marketing coordinator). The board of directors has 20 members, who represent the composition of the VIA membership, including small, medium and large manufacturers. Key services:
Education and training organized by job function.
Benchmarking for Excellence Survey, a survey tool for self evaluation based on best practices.
Annual Wage Report, member focused, with timely regional data.
Biennial employee practices and benefits survey, also focused where our members are located.
Grant opportunities, if available
Representation on regional committees and consortium addressing the skilled labor shortage in manufacturing.
Connecting manufacturers with students to spark and inspire consideration of Manufacturing and STEM careers, via plant tours, Career Awareness Fairs and MFG Day activities in October. Many of these local events are held in partnership between Regional school districts (EFE's), the River Valley Workforce Investment Board, Waubonsee Community College and Elgin Community College Harper Community College and the College of DuPage along with numerous other vocational groups.