DES MOINES, IOWA - The Mid-States Plastics Conference and Exhibition is growing, just like the plastics industry in the states of the Midwest. ``It isn't exactly that show up at McCormick Place,'' joked Doug Getter, referring to the triennial NPE show held in Chicago. ``But this is only the second year, and we are about a third bigger than last year.''
Getter is a program manager for the nonprofit Wallace Tech-nology Foundation, a Des Moines-based industrial development organization and one of the sponsors of the Mid-States show.
The two-day show drew about 70 exhibitors last week. Other sponsors were the Iowa Chapter of the Society of Plastics Engin-eers and the Iowa Department of Development.
Getter said his organization helps manufacturers modernize and commercialize their businesses, and has embarked on a number of programs dealing with the plastics industry.
``We have several interactive programs, in conjunction with other organizations, community colleges, and the state itself, aimed at enabling employees to get the training they need without leaving the job,'' he said.
``And there are programs like the Iowa Plastics Technology Center, where research and testing on processes and materials can be done.''
Ray Klemmensen, plastics specialist with the technology center, also one of the conference sponsors, said his organization can provide the technical backup companies need to expand their manufacturing, and help them develop new techniques.
``This show is only one of the ways,'' he said. ``It is a great chance for manufacturers to get together and work on their problems, or find new customers.''
Getter said the Wallace Foundation also has set up an apprentice mold-builder program with the U.S. Department of Labor to train more people in the mold- and toolmaking industries.
``We see the demand for mold builders increasing significantly in the next five years,'' he said. ``And we are trying to make it so there is a two-way classroom for the would-be apprentices.''
The program enables plastics workers to acquire skills toward their apprenticeships at local community colleges using the American Mold Builders Association curriculum.
The program will begin this fall, and Getter said the response has been good.
According to figures from the Society for the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington, Iowa has seen employment in plastics jobs grow from 11,600 in 1991, to 16,500 in 1994, with 207 plastics companies. About $903 million of the state's $2.5 billion per year in shipments come from molded products and pipe.
The show also drew companies from Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and other Midwest states.