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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Durbin Announces $25M Grant To Support Small, Emerging IL Manufacturers


Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced a $25 million federal grant for the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center in Peoria Thurs. The aim is to help local manufacturers compete in a rapidly changing industry.

The Peoria-based consultant advises and trains manufacturing companies on ways to increase profits, sustainability and cost-savings. The bulk of IMEC’s clients are small to mid-size companies. That’s why Democratic Senator Durbin says the funding will help give small businesses in Illinois a leg-up in the tech-driven, global market.

“What we’re trying to focus on is not just the Caterpillars and John Deeres, and God bless them, we want them to prosper," Durbin said. "But we’re looking for the smaller manufacturing operations which in and of themselves might not be able to pull this off.”

Such support is vital to companies like subcontractor Premiere Fabrications, located  about 25 miles East of Peoria. CEO Scott Aberle, a Republican, says IMEC’s training and services have been essential to his company’s growth in the past decade.

Durbin says the funding is a good indicator for economic growth in the future.

“I’m happy to say that because of IMEC, and its partners and the hard-working small businesses in the state, the words ‘made in Illinois’ no longer need to be a thing of the past,” Durbin said. 

The news comes after a tough year for Illinois manufacturers. Last year Caterpillar announced a restructuring that reduces its global workforce by ten-thousand people. Durbin says that’s why a major component of the grant emphasizes advances in robotics and technology to recharge the industry in Illinois.