Aerospace & Defense

IL, IA: Quad Cities Chamber, U of IL Partner for $5.5M Defense Dpt. Grant

21 Dec, 2015

The Quad Cities will be a major beneficiary of a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) grant that was recently awarded. The Quad Cities Chamber partnered with the University of Illinois to receive a $5.5 million grant from the DoD to support economic revitalization in Illinois and the bi-state Quad Cities region affected by reductions in federal military spending.

The two-year grant was awarded by the DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) under a program created to assist military-connected communities. Known as the State of Illinois Defense Industry Adjustment Program, the data-driven initiative will fund three primary efforts to help communities across the state foster growth despite the changing defense landscape. The initial phase will involve a comprehensive data-collection initiative that will identify the full scope of defense assets across the state, as well as industries that are part of the military supply chain – including the businesses and manufacturers across the states with links to military spending. These finding will then be analyzed and shared with the state and local communities to develop strategic plans through an effort led by the Natalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The effort will also provide seed money to fund strategic realignment initiatives, beginning with efforts that are already underway in the Quad Cities.

“This grant will help us fulfill an important strategy under our recently-launched Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub,” says Paul Rumler, Chief Economic Development Officer, Quad Cities Chamber.

In August 2015, the Quad Cities Chamber launched the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub, and among goals of the Hub is to help manufacturers implement technology and operational improvements to remain globally competitive. Working closely with regional manufacturers, the Quad Cities Chamber will take inventory of existing manufacturing capabilities, identify where there are clusters of expertise that can be capitalized on, and where opportunities and vulnerabilities exist.

“Manufacturers everywhere are dealing with an onslaught of changes in technology. They’re working to determine what new technologies will be the most beneficial to their business and how to best implement and staff them. The Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub is here as a resource to help manufacturers do this,” says Curt Burnett, Executive Director, Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub.

The announcement of this grant comes just one month after a partnership between the Quad Cities Chamber and the Digital Manufacturing Design Innovation Institute was finalized. That partnership will help Quad Cities' firms get, use, and leverage data throughout their manufacturing processes. 

 “Through the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub, we’re building up resources to ensure this region’s manufacturers have the tools to capitalize on changing technologies and maintain the Quad Cities’ position as a manufacturing center of gravity,” says Paul Rumler, Chief Economic Development Officer, Quad Cities Chamber.

Numerous elected officials offered letters in support of the grant, including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley, Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelley, Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, and Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack.

Other organizations expected to participate in the program include the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center Network, a state program that provides assistance to companies seeking to procure federal contracts; the Chicago Metro Metal Consortium, a network of more than 70 partners in the greater Chicago area focused on strengthening the region’s metals sector; and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Military Affairs Committee, which seeks to educate Illinoisans about the importance of the state’s defense assets. Additional community partners will be identified throughout the course of the grant.

About: The Quad Cities Chamber is a champion for business and community growth in the region.